The Cleveland Browns will have a lot of critical decisions to make in the offseason, and deciding whether or not Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden can lead this team to a Super Bowl in four or five years will be second on the list (next to finding the right head coach and general manager combination).
Brandon Weeden can make all the throws. That's not the issue. Weeden's biggest problem is the mental aspect of the game.
It is obvious watching Weeden that he stares down receivers at times, and rather than anticipating a receiver getting open before he actually does, he waits until the receiver is clearly open before he releases the ball.
Weeden also makes a few really questionable decisions every game that tell you he has difficulty reading defenses.
He struggles with feeling pressure and needs to learn how to slide around in the pocket to create a little more time for himself. Overall though, I think he has done a good job of getting rid of the ball in a timely manner.
I will not attribute his struggles to being a rookie because in today's NFL, rookie quarterbacks are coming into the league and making a big impact right away. However, it's obvious that Weeden hasn't been given a lot of help from his supporting cast and, most importantly, his own coaching staff.
Head coach Pat Shurmur has forced Weeden into a traditional West Coast offense that focuses on short passing routes that require a lot of timing and chemistry between the quarterback and his receivers.
The problem with this type of system for Weeden is that all of his receivers are still really young and still learning how to run precise routes so that they can get open consistently. Pair this along with the fact that even though running back Trent Richardson will be a star, he has a subpar per carry average of 3.5 yards which has put Weeden in way too many long second-and-third down situations. The run blocking has also been suspect the majority of the season.
Look at the success of Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III or Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. They both have had good running games and have had their offenses designed to best utilize what they do best.
Weeden deserves one more season to showcase himself. A head coach that tailors the offense to Weeden's strengths in a more vertical offense and more shotgun formations should help him feel more comfortable.
This offense should take a big leap forward next year with a healthy Richardson and one more offseason for Weeden and his receivers to build on their chemistry.
It simply would not be smart to give up on a durable, strong-armed quarterback like Weeden after one year when he has shown several flashes of what he could be if placed in the right situation.