Cleveland Browns May be Sending Receivers Downfield More, But Brandon Weeden is the Key
The Cleveland Browns are looking to turn a corner in 2013 after a 5-11 campaign in the 2012 NFL season and a pretty long history of losing. They made a step in the right direction last season by scoring big in the draft with running back Trent Richardson, who showed a ton of promise when he was healthy in 2012.
Now reports are that the Browns are going to really open up their passing attack in 2013. Josh Gordon told the media that defenses around the league “will be shocked” at how often the Browns are going to throw downfield under offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Gordon said the receiving core is ready and has shown improvements.
However, it doesn’t matter where Cleveland’s receivers are running their routes and how well they are running them if quarterback Brandon Weeden doesn’t show major improvements this season. In short, the 29-year-old’s rookie season in Cleveland was largely unsuccessful and raised a lot of doubts.
Weeden started under center in 15 games for the Browns last season. He threw 517 pass attempts, but completed just 57.4 percent of them for 3,385 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was largely inaccurate in the precise West Coast-style system, but that wasn’t even his biggest issue. The area where Weeden had the most trouble was with his decision-making.
Weeden threw 17 interceptions last season and lost three fumbles. Though interceptions happen, especially to inexperienced quarterbacks, the problems with Weeden were evident. He rushed throws, tried to force throws, and sometimes missed open throws on a troublingly regular basis in 2012, which was the main cause of his ineffectiveness.
If the Browns really want to improve on offense, they have to make sure Weeden is putting in the work to develop his decision-making and to make him more comfortable in the pocket. Part of Weeden’s struggles could have been related to the system last year, but not all of them. If he doesn’t get better, neither do the Browns.