Brandon Weeden's Inconsistent Play Is Cleveland Browns' Biggest Offensive Hurdle

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Brandon Weeden's Inconsistent Play Is Cleveland Browns' Biggest Offensive Hurdle
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

As if losing a virtual elimination game to their rivals wasn’t enough, Cleveland Browns fans also had to witness the return of Brandon Weeden as the starting quarterback.

When Weeden replaced Jason Campbell in the third quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers, you could hear boo birds from all over the stadium. The fans obviously do not like Weeden and made sure he knew about it.

Why do they hate him so much, though?

For one, his stats have been terrible this season. He has completed just 52 percent of his passes and thrown just six touchdowns to the 11 turnovers he has caused.

Perhaps the most maddening part of watching Weeden play, however, is that he can be good at times. He will make a stunning throw down the sidelines and then a boneheaded decision on the very next play.

If Weeden could find some consistency, then the Browns would still have an outside shot at the AFC Wild Card spot. They are still just one game back.

That doesn’t seem very likely though.

In this week’s film breakdown, we look at three plays from his relief performance last week. By the time he took his first offensive snap, the Browns were already down 20-3 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. That would have been a tough hill to climb for any backup quarterback, but he still was wildly inconsistent. Let’s take a look at the film.

 

Play 1: 2nd-and-10 with 3:25 left in the third quarter

NFL Game Rewind

The Browns line up in 11 personnel (one running back and one tight end) in shotgun. Tight end Jordan Cameron and wide receiver Davone Bess are bunched to Weeden's right with wide receiver Greg Little split out past them.

To his left he has wide receiver Josh Gordon. Cameron and Gordon will run streak routes, Bess will run a shallow crossing route, and Little will run a comeback route just past the first-down marker.

NFL Game Rewind

The ball is snapped, and Weeden immediately has two options. Bess is open on the shallow crossing route but will be well short of the first down.

Weeden recognizes that the defender is giving Little a large cushion and back-pedaling. This will give him an opportunity to throw for a first down. But the timing must be perfect.

NFL Game Rewind

Weeden is already releasing the pass as Little plants his foot to make his cut backwards. This is perfect timing, and Little is wide open to catch the ball. 

Verdict

This completion resulted in a 13-yard gain and a first down. Weeden read the defender perfectly and threw a tight spiral to Little. This is what I like to call “good Weeden.”

 

Play 2: 3rd-and-10 with 6:26 left in the fourth quarter

NFL Game Rewind

This play illustrates the maddening side of Weeden. This is the exact same formation and same route structure as the first play. In fact, it is the exact same play.

NFL Game Rewind

The Steelers defend it almost exactly like they did the first time. Bess is open over the middle but would be well short of the first-down marker. The defender is once again giving Little a big cushion and back-pedaling.

Weeden should know that he has an automatic first down to Little. The Browns ran the same play less than one quarter ago.

NFL Game Rewind

Instead of throwing the same pass to Little and moving the chains, Weeden inexplicably runs forward while holding the ball out in front of his body.

As you can see at the bottom of the screen, Little once again is open, and a good throw would have been a first down.

Verdict

The Browns were still down just 17 points at this time. Instead of extending the drive and threatening to score, Weeden was hit and fumbled. The Steelers recovered.

That was his fourth fumble lost in just seven games this year.

 

Play 3: 1st-and-10 with 4:34 left in the fourth quarter 

NFL Game Rewind

The Browns are once again in an 11 personnel trailing by 17 points. Cameron is lined up to Weeden's left and will run a shallow crossing pattern. There are two receivers right and one to his left that will all run post routes.

Running back Chris Ogbonnaya will be his safety valve and run a pattern out into the flat to the left.

NFL Game Rewind

Weeden drops back to pass and has plenty of time to throw. He stares at Cameron on the crossing route the entire play.

While Cameron is open at the moment, that window is closing quickly because there is a defender seven yards ahead of him sitting in a zone. The ball must be delivered right now if that is where he is going with it.

Ogbonnaya is also wide open. In fact, there are no defenders within 15 yards of him, so he would have plenty of room to run. Weeden does not even glance his way.

NFL Game Rewind

Weeden hesitates and waits a few more steps before delivering the ball to Cameron. This was just long enough for Steelers cornerback William Gay to break on the route and beat Cameron to the spot.

Verdict

The pass, which was delivered late, was easily intercepted and returned for a touchdown by William Gay. Weeden led the defender to the spot with his eyes and then hesitated, giving Gay enough time to make the play.

The most frustrating part of this play was that Weeden threw a 42-yard bomb to Gordon the very next time he touched the football. He read the safety perfectly and threw a perfect strike.

 

Overview

Inconsistency is the name of the game when it comes to Brandon Weeden, as illustrated by these plays. He can dazzle with his arm strength one play and enrage you with his indecision on the next.

The Browns offense ran the same play less than 12 minutes apart in this game, and Weeden could have had the exact same result, but he made the wrong decision the second time.

Consistency is what wins in the NFL. Consistency is what gets a team to the playoffs. If quarterbacks prove they cannot be consistent, then they find themselves as a backup or worse yet, out of the league.

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