Weeden needs to learn how to guide the rally
It’s painfully obvious that there are limitations to what the Cleveland Browns can accomplish on offense.
For starters, a three-point deficit in the fourth quarter is usually insurmountable. That’s sad to say, but it’s usually the case.
How many of you were confident the Browns would “rally” from a 13-10 deficit late in the third quarter last Sunday against the Miami Dolphins? I write “rally” because for most teams a three-point deficit is one fling of the quarterback’s wrist from turning around.
Apparently the 62,461 fans who paid to watch the game had no confidence. Most of them filed toward the exits before another pass deflected off the hands of a receiver.
Someone joked Sunday that Browns fans can empty a stadium quicker than any fan group in the NFL. They almost have it down to a science, showing the ability to move from seat to car to freeway before play-by-play announcer Jim Donovan wraps up the radio broadcast.
The offense’s inability to rally from the smallest of deficits is more noticeable when you watch other teams with real NFL offenses. When the New York Giants trailed the Dallas Cowboys 30-17 early in the fourth quarter, you knew that Eli Manning would make it close (the Giants lost 36-31). Robert Griffin III led the Washington Redskins back from a 33-7 deficit in the third period only to lose to the Philadelphia Eagles, 33-27.
The Houston Texans’ comeback had a more positive result against the San Diego Chargers. The Texans, with help in the form of an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown by Brian Cushing, rallied from a 28-7 third-quarter deficit to win, 31-28.
The key element in each of the near comebacks and the one successful comeback was the quarterback’s ability to step up his game at critical times. Some quarterbacks have that innate skill set, while others can only hope to have it one day.
As of now, Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden is in the latter grouping. He simply doesn’t have the ability to generate the belief among teammates – let alone 62,000 fans – that everything is OK and all will be taken care of before the clock reaches 0:00.
Quarterbacks are like human computers, processing information in fractions of a second and delivering a result. The process becomes more demanding when the pressure of the moment increases with each down.
You just don’t see that quick-twitch action from Weeden. It’s not fair to compare him to Peyton Manning because Manning is a cut above most quarterbacks when looking at a game in time-warped speed, but as a coach you want to see signs of improvement.
Now isn’t the time to start calling for Jason Campbell of Brian Hoyer. The Browns have a first-round draft choice invested in Weeden, albeit from another regime. There were enough flashes of potential shown last season to warrant riding out this season with Weeden so that a thorough and precise evaluation can be made next January.
The thing about Weeden is that he’s a genuinely good guy with all the right intentions. It’s easy to hope that he’ll be the man that will finally settle the dust at the position.
But plenty of good guys have played quarterback for the Browns during the last 15 seasons and look where most of them are today. They’re either a backup, an announcer or practicing for the PGA Champions Tour for seniors.
Weeden recently shot 78 in a round of golf with PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner. About one month before of his 30th birthday, Weeden is just 20 years shy of being old enough to qualify for the Champions Tour.
Fans can only hope that Weeden doesn’t start working on that dream for a few more years.