A lot of people are saying that this is Brandon Weeden‘s make-it-or-break-it season. And there are two reasons why a lot of people are saying it.
First, someone on the radio or internet said it and it got regurgitated to the point of being “true”.
Second, the NFL is a quarterbacks league, and if you don’t have an elite quarterback, you’re probably not going to go far. And it doesn’t take a whole lot to be elite these days (see: Joe Flacco), but even so, you can’t win much with a mediocre quarterback.
However, I think Weeden’s future with the Cleveland Browns is already broken. And it has nothing to do with ability.
I don’t have a problem with Weeden. I didn’t hate him last year, but I’m not sold on him either. To me, he looked like a rookie. Fans have come to think that playing in the NFL is the same as playing Madden, but in real life, rookies are inconsistent.
Look, you being able to use the toggle stick while simultaneously pressing the X button is not the same skill set as playing NFL football. In real life, guys run the wrong route from time to time. A guy drops a ball. Every once in a while, a guy will pick up the wrong receiver or throw out instead of in. It happens. They’re real people. Just like that awful shirt you chose to wear today, people make the wrong choices from time to time.
Weeden threw for a lot of yards last year. Yeah, he got a lot of passes knocked down and he had issues with staring down receivers. He also was inconsistent in his accuracy.
But again, he was learning to play on the fly, playing with the best of the best, and PLAYING FOR PAT SHURMUR! He should be awarded a Purple Heart just for that!
Now he has Norv Turner. Personally, I’m in no big hurry to get rid of him until there’s a better option. The fans, of course, are.
So I asked: Can the guy play a couple of years before we put him in the guillotine? And what do the fans know? They wanted Kevin Kolb and Matt Flynn. Fans, again, regurgitating information, but through an “I’m a crazy person whose very self-worth is tied to the accomplishments of the local football team” filter.
Then I realize that it doesn’t matter how he plays this year. It doesn’t matter if he goes to the Pro Bowl. With the fans – and maybe with the front office – Brandon Weeden’s career with the Browns is already broken. Why? Because he’s living with the Curse of Derek Anderson.
Derek Anderson, who also wore No. 3 and was also coached by Rob Chudzinski, played for the Browns from 2005-2009. But “DA” didn’t come into the fans’ focus until the end of the 2006 season when quarterback Charlie Frye was injured in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Down 28-14, DA led the team back to victory.
Still, the Browns started 2007 with Frye as the starter. He played one quarter in the opener before he was replaced by Anderson. By the end of the season, the team had racked up 10 wins.
But there was something troubling: As the season wore on, Anderson seemed to be slipping. He had the arm strength, but his accuracy and decision-making seemed to be shaky.
2008 was an awful season where the Browns used 251 different quarterbacks – give or take – and people were fired. Anderson never had success again.
So what does this have to do with Brandon Weeden? Well, Browns fans see them as being the same quarterback: Arm strength, a lack of accuracy, and sometimes-questionable decision making.
That means that even if Weeden has a great 2013, fans will just see it as Anderson’s 2007. They’ll see it as an aberration. They’ll still be clamoring for a quarterback high in the 2014 draft. Especially if, regardless of stats, the team has a lackluster season.
And that may or may not be too bad. Nobody deserves to be judged based on one season that happened three head coaches and three GMs ago. Had Anderson played 2007 as he did every other season in his career – mediocre – then maybe a good season could save Brandon Weeden in Cleveland.
But Anderson did have that one season, and the curse it left behind will probably make 2013 Brandon Weeden’s last as a Cleveland Brown.