It is time for the Cleveland Browns to pull the plug on quarterback Brandon Weeden. You can point to the big throws he makes down the field and the bullets he tosses on 25-yard out routes but the mistakes are just too glaring. He is far too inconsistent.
The Cleveland front office said that after they traded running back Trent Richardson they were not tanking and were playing to win this season. Whether it was by design or blind luck, the team proved on the field that that this was the truth.
In just four short weeks, the Browns have gone from throwing away the season to being a contender for the AFC North and back to being a question mark offensively. What a roller coaster.
The operator of this season is now Brandon Weeden. He stepped in for an injured Brian Hoyer, who had replaced him just two weeks earlier, and performed admirably. He made big throws down the stretch and was good enough to get the Browns a win on national TV against the Buffalo Bills.
Against the Detroit Lions, however, he showed he is just not good enough to steer a team with playoff hopes.
In a repeat of a storyline that Browns fans are too familiar with, Weeden started slow and shaky. He was just 2-for-5 for 11 yards passing after twelve minutes of football on Sunday. But in true Weeden form, he put together just enough plays to make you think, “what if?”
At halftime, Weeden was 12-for-20 for 135 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Those are the types of numbers you want from a starting quarterback. That is the type of half Weeden has teased us with too often.
It’s not just the fact that Weeden had a QB rating of 61.1 in the second half or that he threw one of the ugliest interceptions anyone has ever seen, it’s that this is a pattern. Consistency gets you to the playoffs, and Weeden is the antithesis of consistent.
So where do the Browns turn? That is a very difficult question to answer.
There was a report from Tom Pelissaro of The USA Today on October fourth that said the Browns were meeting with free-agent quarterback Tyler Thigpen. Before you scoff at that name, remember that in 2008 he threw for 2,600 yards with 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions for the Kansas City Chiefs, who were abysmal and won just two games.
Since that time, Thigpen has been put behind “quarterbacks of the future” like Chad Henne in Miami and Ryan Fitzpatrick in Buffalo.
At 29 years old, he is younger than Brandon Weeden, who turns 30 just twenty-four hours after the Browns' loss to Detroit.
On the other hand, maybe the answer is already in the building.
Jason Campbell, who the front office signed to “compete” with Weeden through training camp, is already in quarterback meetings. He already knows the system.
Campbell is just three years removed from a season where he threw for 2,387 yards with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions in twelve games as the Oakland Raiders' starting quarterback.
Of course, maybe you don’t like the quarterback who 31 other teams passed on this season or the guy who was leapfrogged on the depth chart by an undrafted kid who had just one start in his career. Me neither.
This is the corner the Browns have put themselves in. By claiming they are still trying to win, and then doing so, they have to put a quarterback on the field that is consistent enough to give them a shot to win each week.
Unfortunately, that’s not Brandon Weeden. The defense and coaching staff are good enough to get to the playoffs, but the quarterback is not.
If the Browns truly believe they have a shot at the AFC North, they need to make a change now. Otherwise they can ride out Weeden, and he will get them exactly where everyone thought they were going four weeks ago: a top 10 draft pick.