NFL: Will Brandon Weeden Have the Best Season of Any Rookie Quarterback?
No. No, he won't. But he could help to thaw our frostbitten hearts and give Cleveland fans hope again.
Brandon Weeden is one of a handful of super exciting rookies on the revamped Browns offense. Yes, I feel a tingle in my tummy when I think of this season. But I'm not going to start looking at China patterns after a first date, and football is much more serious than marriage.
So, in the spirit of true mealy-mouthedness, here are five considerations concerning Weeden's imminent good, not great, rookie season.
Accuracy and Range
I am stoked to watch this guy play. He's got the ability to put the football almost anywhere on the field, and his pass-first instinct is a plus with the offensive line in front of him. In today's NFL, QBs increasingly sink or swim based on their ability to get the ball out as quickly as possible.
Admittedly, that sense of urgency can lead to picks, and Weeden has had quite a few in training camp. He's not a machine, but he has shown a remarkable ability to adapt and learn from his mistakes.
Wondering what that queasy feeling is, Cleveland fans? It's either the anticipation of a watchable offense, or you ate expired turkey again.
The Offensive Line
Mitchell Schwartz is arguably the dot on the giant question mark known as Cleveland's offensive line. There's a distinct possibility that Schwartz could provide the versatility we need on the right and keep Brandon Weeden's feet on the ground.
But like bread or Batman, they'll need a little time to rise. Browns fans know all too well how dependent a rookie (or any) QB is on the guys in front of him, and we could be in for a pleasant surprise. There's just no way to tell until the chips are down.
It's not time to count our chickens just yet, but we're not settling for an omelet, either.
Brandon Weeden is no 22-year-old (no offense to 22-year-olds; sometimes at bars I am one). At 28, he's already experienced one of life's most profound periods of emotional and psychological growth: the mid-20s.
He's been on some major stages, albeit briefly, with the Yankees and Dodgers. Somehow, I get the feeling that he'll have got a cool head, a steady hand and an awesome half-beard. That last one I know for sure.
In the NFL, the ability to not get rattled is pretty significant. I predict Weeden's maturity to play a major part in how he stacks up to other rookies this season.
Fans and Supporting Cast
Let's face it, we already love him; at least, I do. But there's a difference between attention and pressure, and I think this is a key distinction for Weeden going into this season.
In football, as in dating, modest expectations can sometimes be an advantage. If we go under .500, I'll be fine with it. If we go over .500, I might go streaking. It's a win/win/lose (for my neighbors.)
Weeden may carry the weight of a cursed position and a lot of hungry fans, but our most compelling request is a simple one. We want to have fun again. We want to be glued to our TVs a couple Sundays this fall without the visual obstruction of our fingers. Weeden and his cast of young but promising rookies definitely have the goods to deliver.
There's a overriding reason that Weeden likely won't boast the rookie performance of the season, and it has nothing to do with his ability. He's competing with two extremely promising guys in Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. The latter has already turned out a promising preseason performance.
It's a case of right talent, wrong year. Weeden will undoubtedly drop some jaws and make some highlights, but outperforming Luck is no easy task.
The good news is, he doesn't have to. The 2012 Browns rookies have only to give us a show and maybe win a few games for good measure. I have no doubt that Weeden will rise to the occasion.
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