Cleveland Browns: Brandon Weeden's Failure Could Spell Doom for Franchise

Derek TalibContributor IIISeptember 11, 2012

Sep 9, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden (3) stands next to Browns head coach Pat Shurmur during the third quarter at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-US PRESSWIRE

Brandon Weeden’s poor outing has far-reaching effects in Cleveland that could heavily impact the Browns for years to come. 

Pat Shurmur has to make decisions very soon that could make or break not only this season, but the fate of an entire franchise.  As the new owner, Jimmy Haslam, sits in the stands or his luxury suite he cannot help but shake his head and simply say, “that is not good enough”.  

Haslam has sought advice from several owners, and Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer reported his emphasis on getting the quarterback position right:

“Get a good quarterback,” said Haslam with a hearty chuckle. “That’s been the gist from everybody. I asked John Mara and he said, ‘quarterback, coach, GM.’ and that’s been pretty consistent on the football side. Hopefully, Brandon (Weeden) will be that for us.”

A normal team would say not to hit the panic button, it is only one game. The Cleveland Browns are not a normal team. 

Since coming back to the league in 1999, they have formed a rich tradition in losing.  Jimmy Haslam looks to end the long-running joke that is Cleveland sports. The buck stops right here and right now.

There is no room for a coach that does not have the common sense to go for two points, so that if the Eagles score they can go to overtime. Pat Shurmur in his press conference thought it to be a two-field-goal game and not a touchdown game. 

He did not think one of the best offenses in the NFL would be able to muster a touchdown on his exhausted defense.  Instead he went for one and lost by that same number.  There is no room for a quarterback, rookie or not, to turn in a passer rating of 5.1 with 4 interceptions.  There is no room for a GM and team president to not draft a franchise quarterback when his team had more ammunition than any other team.

Shurmur stated the obvious in his press conference when discussing how Brandon just simply has to throw the ball better.  Really…do you feel good about cashing that check with that advice?

As Brandon Weeden overthrew his tight end for what would have been a game-winning play, Colt McCoy had to secretly grin and think, “thanks for the fair quarterback competition.”  This is big boy football where quarterbacks are paid a king’s ransom, and it will only get worse for Brandon Weeden, since Cincinnati, Baltimore and Pittsburgh do not suffer fools at the quarterback position.

Brandon Weeden can wipe out an entire coaching staff and front office.  He has the power to single-handedly set the Browns organization back three to four years.  If he does not succeed, Jimmy Haslam will get rid of everyone and start from scratch, which is what the Browns do not need.  He will wipe out the progress the defense has made, and it will be yet another wasted year for players such as Joe Thomas who is watching his best years pass him by in Cleveland.

The reality is that Brandon Weeden was given the starting quarterback job and there was no competition.  This is not to say that Colt McCoy is the long-term answer. His arm strength is just now coming back as he still recovers from an injury received in college. 

The one thing Colt has over Brandon Weeden is that he knows this offense a lot better and has experience playing in the AFC North. Colt is familiar with the Steelers and Ravens defenses.

In Week 1, Weeden could not look off defenders, nor go to his checkdown receivers. Are we to believe that Troy Smith, Seneca Wallace, Donovan McNabb or any of a host of unemployed signal-callers cannot do better than that?  Mike Holmgren is great at taking on projects; how about just getting the team someone who knows how to at least be average…that’s all.

It is not fair to the other 52 players on the Cleveland roster to wait for Brandon Weeden to “get it." Weeden is too old to play as bad as he has shown. Miami's Ryan Tannehill is at least young and will grow into the position.  Brandon Weeden will quickly learn that, in Cleveland, you do not offer performances like his against Philadelphia and act like it is no big deal.

The fans in the Dawg Pound have suffered long enough and should not be asked to wait for Weeden to become, at the bare minimum, average.

Pat Shurmur is confident that Brandon Weeden will play better, but that is not exactly going out on a limb.  How could he play much worse?  The job of all 32 teams is to go to the playoffs and win a Super Bowl, unless you happen to be the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns would seem to be happy…no…downright giddy if they manage to go 8-8.  A record of 8-8 is a lot better than 4-12, right?  Is that what Mike Holmgren is getting paid millions of dollars for?  An 8-8 record?  Was Pat Shurmur and Brad Childress brought to Cleveland so that Brandon Weeden could turn in 5.1 passer ratings?

When asked about fans clamoring for Colt McCoy Pat Shurmur acted like it was a crazy question some reporter dreamed up to create controversy.  Let me officially express the fans resolve just in case Pat Shurmur does not get it:  YES!  If Weeden bombs again in a game, put him on the bench and put in Colt McCoy to give the other 52 players a chance to win.

Is that simple enough?

No one outside of the Browns coaching staff think there's a quarterback competition.  With all that said, Brandon Weeden will get better, but how many games will Cleveland have to lose before he gets his light-bulb moment?

Weeden can eventually be a solid NFL signal-caller, but unfortunately with new ownership and teams winning instantly with rookie quarterbacks, there is little patience for a 29-year-old rookie with a 5.1 rating.  If he does not turn it around dramatically he may send Pat Shurmur to the unemployment line next year with his entire staff and front office. 

Long story short, the Browns organization does not have the luxury of giving Brandon Weeden a long leash when Colt McCoy is waiting in the wings for his chance. Do not let the season go into the toilet waiting for Brandon Weeden to grow up.  His age and experience in pro sports should tell him that his opportunities to impress are few.

It was only one start, only one game, but it was a winnable game at home against a playoff-caliber team.  The only thing the fans and the other Cleveland players are going to ask is to put the best 11 players on the field.

Nothing teaches like playing, but when the game is on the line, it may be time to put in the relief pitcher. Weeden played baseball, so I am sure he would understand.