Cleveland Browns: Will Brandon Weeden or Josh Gordon Help Browns More in 2012?
Cleveland Browns’ rookies Brandon Weeden and Josh Gordon are names Browns fans are going to be hearing a lot in 2012 and beyond.
Both are a work in progress, but they have already begun to show flashes after a mere two weeks’ time together. Gordon wasn’t sure he’d even be playing in the NFL this season a little over a month ago and has come a long way since.
But that isn’t what this is about.
This is about determining which of these two rookies will make a bigger impact on the success of the Browns this season.
The quarterback position is inherently the most important piece of the offensive puzzle. While a quarterback does need weapons, those weapons would be somewhat useless without an efficient and capable signal-caller behind center.
Brandon Weeden was selected, with the Browns' crucial second first-round selection in last April’s draft. He was picked because he is believed to be the guy who can make others better around him.
Until the Browns made the move for Gordon in the supplemental draft, it looked as if they expected Weeden to make those strides by himself.
Wide receivers are important in more ways than just as pass catchers, though. Receivers who have the size and speed of Gordon are threats and must be accounted for at all times. That opens things up for other players and plays, ultimately benefiting and affecting the success of the team.
Still, quarterbacks have the edge as more of the success of the team is dependent on their every action.
Josh Gordon is the youngest Cleveland Brown
After sitting out the entire 2011 season with Utah, Gordon is in position to earn a starting wide receiver position with the receiver-bare Cleveland Browns. Although, his “year off” wasn’t as big of a deal as many have made it. He was inactive for games but still practiced with the team.
Thus far he has made some noise in training camp and demonstrated some success and some struggles with the first-team offense. In practice, the 21-year-old youngster is lighting it up for the most part. He’s hauled in only two of his eight targets for 38 yards to this point.
He had a really bad drop in the second-quarter against the Green Bay Packers in their Week 2 matchup.
The biggest thing Gordon needs to do is learn how to control defensive backs and sell his routes better. He’s predictable and hasn’t been effective in running anything other than post and fly routes to this point.
Brandon Weeden is ready to shine
Weeden was shaky in his first preseason game but came out in his second appearance and showed marked improvement in his delivery and patience. He hasn’t made very many mistakes, throwing the ball away when necessary and checking down when the downfield options were taken away.
His progressions will need to improve as well as his staring down of his primary target receivers. However, he’s already showing signs of improvement, and that is a very good thing for this young Browns team.
With all of that in mind, when you look at Weeden in the pocket it has to excite you. The arm strength and velocity behind his throws gives the Browns’ West Coast offense a new dimension that it simply has not had to this point.
According to Steve Doerschuk of CantonRep.com, who frequents the Browns' practices in Berea, Weeden is capable of making all of the necessary throws and is looking great in practice. He wrote about Weeden after the team's August 20 practice:
Weeden’s impressive Monday practice boosted optimism. It’s one thing to recite the scouting report that Weeden can make all the throws. It’s another to see him do it live.
Teams will need to respect the deep ball because of Weeden’s presence. The additions of Gordon and speedster Travis Benjamin don’t hurt that concept, either.
So then, what’s the verdict?
By virtue of his position and the amount of the game he will be asked to control, Brandon Weeden will make a bigger impact than Josh Gordon this year for the Browns.
Gordon is a tremendously gifted athlete and will be a weapon for Weeden, but it is going to be a learning process for him as he catches up to the intricacies of route running and the terminology of the West Coast offense.
Despite Weeden’s significance, both of these incredible athletes will help turn the struggling Browns franchise into a winning team for years to come.
Either way, whoever makes the bigger impact, it will immediately affect the other Browns around them.
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