To say that rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden looked awful in his first game as the Cleveland Browns’ starter is an understatement. Horrendous or sickening might be better.
Despite this display of sub-par quarterbacking, Browns head coach Pat Shurmur isn’t ready to throw in the towel on Weeden, reaffirming that he is the starter and that “he’s going to get better.”
But what if Weeden doesn’t get better anytime soon?
Even against a Philadelphia Eagles team that only managed to put up 17 points as Michael Vick threw four interceptions, Weeden couldn’t muster enough offense to put his team on top. When all was said and done and the Browns had notched their first loss of the season, Weeden had completed only 12 of 35 passes for 118 yards and an embarrassing four interceptions.
The most pitiful stat: Weeden’s 5.1 passer rating. Yes, it was that bad.
Not only was his stat line ugly, but Weeden simply looked uncomfortable out on the field. He struggled to read the defense and managed a feeble 15-percent third-down conversion rate. When in the pocket, he looked antsy and couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn when throwing further than five yards down the field. Weeden’s only real highlight of the day was his 25-yard scramble; that’s not saying much.
When the game mercifully came to a close, the Browns had gained only three yards per passing play and gave up two sacks on their way to a horrific season opener. Of their 16 points, only nine had come from the offensive side of the ball – all via field goal. If it wasn’t for the play of their defense, the Browns would easily have been blown out.
In Weeden’s defense, his supporting cast did almost nothing to help him and the offense succeed.
Fellow 2012 first-round pick, running back Trent Richardson, managed a whopping 39 yards on 19 carries. One of the rookie’s four interceptions resulted from a deflection off of wide receiver Greg Little. Although the offensive line only gave up two sacks, there was consistent pressure that forced Weeden to rush his throws.
After that debut, there’s a good chance that the struggles could continue for Weeden. Considering that he turned in arguably the worst debut of any rookie quarterback in NFL history, it’s going to take a big step in the other direction from Weeden for him to prove himself worthy of the starting spot. Although possible, the odds aren’t in his favor.
Meanwhile, the Browns have a capable, experienced NFL quarterback in Colt McCoy waiting on the sidelines. He’s proven throughout his first two years in the league that he can lead the Browns to victory, although he’s never been a game-breaker.
It might not happen right away, but if Weeden continues to play with his tail between his legs, McCoy could surface as the better short-term option for the Cleveland offense.