How Brandon Weeden Will Impact Browns' Hopes Following Brian Hoyer Injury

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IOctober 4, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 24:  Brandon Weeden #3 of the Cleveland Browns  passes the ball during the preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 24, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It's certainly not the first time that bad luck has struck a Cleveland-based sports franchise. 

Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer's season-ending knee injury and Brandon Weeden's return to the starting role all but kills any playoff hopes Cleveland had heading into October on a three-game winning streak.

After taking over for second-year starter Weeden and leading the Browns to back-to-back wins, Hoyer suffered a torn ACL in the early goings of Thursday night's win over the Buffalo Bills, according to ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter via Twitter:

The injury means that the promising passer and the Browns' playoff hopes will have to wait until 2014 to return.

But while Weeden may not be the worst option at quarterback for the 3-2 Browns when you take a glance around the leagueas Bleacher Report NFL draft analyst Matt Miller sarcastically points out via Twitterthere's no doubt that Cleveland is worse off without the dynamic Hoyer leading the way: 

Sure, Weeden managed to rack up 197 yards and a touchdown against Buffalo in Week 5, but he completed just 13-of-24 passes and still appears to be painfully immobile in the pocket (only Ryan Tannehill has been sacked more often than Weeden this season). And as Cleveland prepares for a challenging four-game stretch before its Week 10 bye, Browns fans have to be worried about what the future holds with the former Oklahoma State star back in saddle.

The Browns will play Detroit, Green Bay, Kansas City and Baltimore in the coming weeks. That spells trouble when your quarterback is completing just 54.5 percent of his passes and sporting a passing touchdown percentage of 1.8 in 2013.

Hoyer wasn't completing at a much better rate but was able to stretch the field and put points on the board with his completions.

On top of the troubling numbers already mentioned, Weeden still has more interceptions than touchdowns this year. 

Oct 3, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden (3) is sacked by Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams (94) during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

What hurts Weeden and the Browns offense even more is the fact that they have zero running game to fall back on. An over-the-hill Willis McGahee is currently Cleveland's starting running back and with Trent Richardson out of the picture, it's no surprise that the Browns rank 26th in the NFL in rush offense. 

With no running game to fall back on, Weeden is under even more pressure to throw strikes and avoid turning the ball over. Two things he hasn't proven he can do consistently since entering the league in 2012.

While Cleveland's defense has been playing at an elite level through the first quarter of the season, it's asking far too much of Ray Horton's unit to lead the Browns to the postseason without even a mediocre offensive game to assist. 

With the AFC East off to an extremely slow start and the Browns building confidence with each touchdown pass from Hoyer, it appeared that Cleveland had a real shot to challenge for the postseason in 2013. But with the team's offensive spark going down to injury and Weeden returning to captain the Browns' attack for the time being, Cleveland's hopes have suffered a devastating blow. 


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