Cleveland Browns: Brandon Weeden Playing Better Than His Numbers, Needs Weapons

Eli Nachmany@EliNachmanyCorrespondent IIIOctober 16, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 07:  Quarterback Brandon Weeden #3 of the Cleveland Browns drops back to pass against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on October 7, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

The 1-5 Cleveland Browns are fresh off of a big victory against their interstate and divisional rival, the Cincinnati Bengals.

On Sunday, the Browns put up 34 points despite the fact that Trent Richardson only rushed for 37 yards on the day (granted, Montario Hardesty added 56 yards and a touchdown rushing, but we'll get back to that).

After a terrible NFL debut and a below-average first four games, Brandon Weeden has been the much-maligned face of the disappointment that the Browns have been in 2012. It'd be easy to write off Weeden as a bust at this point, but a closer look yields a different point of view.

When Jimmy Haslam bought the Browns back in August of this year, according to ProFootballTalk, his first question to Mike Holmgren was whether or not Brandon Weeden could be a franchise quarterback.

The answer is a resounding yes.

On the season, Weeden's numbers are rather bad. The quarterback has only completed 129 of his 231 passes (55.8 percent) for 1,519 yards, seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His cumulative numbers are stained by an awful performance against Philadelphia, in which the signal-caller went 12-of-35 (34.3 percent) with four interceptions and no touchdowns.

It's fair to say that the Philadelphia game was an aberration and, not to throw out numbers or anything, but consider Weeden's numbers without his Week 1 tilt.

After Week 1, fully acclimated to the league, Weeden has completed 117 of his 196 (59.6 percent) passes for 1,401 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions.

These numbers are eerily similar to another rookie quarterback's stat line on the season. Russell Wilson is 95 of 152 (62.5 percent) on the year, amassing 1,108 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions.

Extrapolate Wilson's numbers over 196 pass attempts (Weeden's number) and the Seahawk quarterback would have around 122 completions (compare to Weeden's 117) for 1,428 yards (compare to Weeden's 1,401).

Wilson's team is 4-2, Weeden's team is 1-5.

That being said, according to Pro Football Focus, the Browns quarterback leads all NFL signal-callers with dropped passes at a whopping 25. Aaron Rodgers is a distant second with 21.

Weeden had a great day against Cincinnati on Sunday, with 17 of his 29 passes completed (four potential completions dropped) for 231 yards, two touchdowns and just one interception.

The emergence of Josh Gordon, who caught three of his four targets for 99 yards (one of his catches a 71-yard touchdown) against Cincinnati, certainly helped Weeden and the Browns put up 34 points on the Bengals.

If Cleveland would relax and take a deep breath, staying confident in its man under center and instead trying to get more weapons for him, the Browns could be a competitive team in a year or two.

For those clamoring about drafting another quarterback in the first round of next year's draft, instead focus on improving the talent around Brandon Weeden and it'll be easy to see that the signal-caller is actually a rather decent player. 


Follow me on Twitter @EliNachmany.