Why Brandon Weeden Can Be the Answer for the Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns have undergone a radical change of late. They have a new owner, a new coaching staff, a new defensive scheme and new players at many positions.
Unlike most regime changes, the quarterback position will remain the same. Brandon Weeden, last year's first-round pick, will have 2013 to prove himself after a very hit-and-miss rookie season.
With Jason Campbell brought in as a backup who is capable of starting if needed, it looks like Weeden already has one foot out the door, and the new management has not exactly embraced him as the starter.
Despite the lack of confidence that people seem to have in Weeden, fans included, given that the Browns have not had anything outside of Derek Anderson's one good year in 2007, I actually have high hopes for Weeden in 2013.
Browns fans seeming so eager to ditch Brandon Weeden after one year is surprising. Yes, he had some games where he was flat-out awful (the season opener against Philadelphia comes to mind), and he does overthrow some balls by a ridiculous amount, not to mention the interceptions.
Having Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner in the coaching staff should make Weeden more comfortable this season, and not only that, but their system and what they bring to the system is also perfect for him.
Pat Shurmur's style of offense was fine for Colt McCoy and his skill set, but it was the worst combination for Weeden. Weeden's strengths lie not in a few short passes, but in stretching the field and spreading out defenses.
Not only will the new offense allow more deep connections with Josh Gordon over the course of the season, but spreading the defense should also create fewer interceptions.
Perhaps most importantly, Chudzinski will likely be utilizing the shotgun a lot more with Weeden, which is his preferred style. Having that extra bit of time to make a read and zip the ball will make all the difference, especially because he does not exactly have the option of running given his lack of speed.
I keep pushing the new system, but it's difficult to underestimate the issues that Weeden had last year because of how the plays were run. The Browns had 27 dropped passes, among the highest total in the league, and there were interceptions that were the result of bobbles by the receivers.
This isn't to alleviate Weeden of any of the blame for how his year went. The Browns would have beaten the Eagles with almost anyone else at quarterback that day. Even Thaddeus Lewis probably would have snagged it.
There are reasons to be optimistic about Weeden himself as well, not just because of the regime change. He did manage three 300-yard games, which included one in December, and that number should increase easily in a new system.
No one is expecting Weeden to be elite all of a sudden, but can he complete 60-61 percent of his passes next year to go along with 25 touchdowns? With the offense the Browns have, I don't see why not.
It is, of course, up to Weeden to not only learn the playbook, but also to deliver. He has the perfect situation around him with a quality running back, perhaps the best wide receiver group the Browns have had since their return, and a solid offensive line to boot.
If Weeden still fails to deliver, then they can snag a quarterback next year and will at least have good pieces in place for that quarterback to work with.
I'm a believer in Weeden in this system. Yes, he looked bad in 2012, but sometimes all you have to do is work with the strengths the players have as a coach and watch them evolve.
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