After what could be described as a pretty disappointing preseason debut in Detroit last week, Cleveland Browns rookie starting quarterback Brandon Weeden definitely took a step forward against the Green Bay Packers.
Oh, it wasn't a virtuoso performance by any means, but the 12-of-20, 118-yard performance by the former Oklahoma State Cowboy had to be encouraging not only for Browns fans everywhere but for Weeden's coaches and teammates.
Now, it wasn't all sweetness and light. Weeden threw two extremely ill-advised passes, one which should have gone for a touchdown the other way if not for a drop by Packers rookie Casey Hayward.
But he also showed incredible poise in the face of a variety of blitzes, including one where Packers cornerback Brandian Ross absolutely buried him a split second after he let go of the ball.
The rookie will have to continue to show forward progress, because as of right now he is not the best quarterback on the Browns roster, even though he's been handed the starting job.
That distinction would go to Colt McCoy who, as he did last week in Detroit, came in after Weeden's night was over and thoroughly outplayed the rookie. Whether sensing pressure and escaping the pocket or getting the ball out to his receivers in rhythm, McCoy marched the offense down the field for a touchdown on his only drive of the night.
Now, this is somewhat to be expected. McCoy is entering his third year in the league and his second in this particular offensive scheme. It only makes sense that he should be ahead of a rookie who is still acclimating to life in the NFL.
The Browns, however, are doing the right thing by starting Weeden. Whatever deficiencies he may have in his game, the best way for him to get better is by playing right away. His upside is much greater than McCoy's, who has pretty much hit his NFL ceiling ability-wise.
As for McCoy and his future, the buzz during the game both on Twitter and even in the broadcast booth was about how this game would serve as McCoy's "audition" for the Packers.
The Browns had reportedly been looking for a late-round pick for their former starter earlier this summer. They would be absolutely mad to move McCoy now. The Browns have a chance to surprise some people in 2012. They have a very underrated offensive line, an emerging talent at receiver in Greg Little, and a solid defense that will keep them in a lot of games. (And we haven't even seen Trent Richardson yet.)
McCoy is much more valuable as Weeden insurance than some seven-round pick who will more than likely produce little return on what would be a minimal investment.
The Browns know that being undefeated in the preseason means absolutely nothing. Seeing weekly improvement from their rookie starter means a great deal.