It’s about time for Brandon Weeden this week.
About being his time as the Cleveland Browns starter again, and about getting rid of the ball on time. Time, time everywhere a time … blocking up the scenery …
Weeden said the one thing he learned from watching Brian Hoyer start for three games was to get rid of the ball quicker. “Take pressure off the guys up front,” he said.
His coach agreed, saying having Weeden get the ball out of his hands in a hurry would be a “point of emphasis” in practice this week.
“It’s something he’ll work on and I think he’ll get better at,” Rob Chudzinski said.
One of the main areas Weeden has to work on is how long he holds the ball. In college, he could rely on arm strength and talent around him. In the NFL the reads are more complex, the coverage more confusing. Weeden has the tendency to hold the ball and wait for the receiver to get open, rather than throw to the spot and trust the receiver will be there. Josh Gordon talked this week of telling Weeden he can believe in the guys around him. Hoyer did that, and when he did he brought the short passing game back to the Browns offense. Now the onus is on Weeden to make it happen.
“There’s a million different ways (to do it),” Weeden said. “Whether it’s the design of the player, getting off your first progression faster, pre-snap reads as far as maybe eliminating half the field. Seeing pressure. There’s a lot of different ways to go about it, it just depends on the play.”
Weeden has ridden the roller coaster in Cleveland, from the beloved high draft pick/starter to the guy who struggled early this season and took 11 sacks while scoring one touchdown. He also heard some pretty intense boos when his first two passes sailed wildly incomplete after Hoyer hurt his knee.
Chudzinski noticed the boos, and surprisingly brought it up at his weekly news conference.
“Getting booed, (going) back and forth, and him ultimately making some big plays that helped us win that game,” Chudzinski said. “I think that’s growth. and I think he has a sense of confidence of what he’s been able to do.”
Weeden heard the boos as well.
“I get it; they get it,” Weeden said. “Obviously you don’t want to hear those but I think if you can make a couple throws, put a couple drives together, hopefully you can change those into cheers.”
He added he has not had an incident at his house like Matt Schaub of Houston had, when a fan berated him as he arrived home.
“I’m hoping nobody knows where I live,” he quipped.
The bottom line with Weeden is also the bottom line for the Browns.
He struggled in two starts, both losses. Hoyer brought improved quarterback play in two starts, and the Browns won. Hoyer started and was injured early in the fifth game; Weeden took over and brought improved play from his first two games and the Browns won.
Weeden faces a Lions defense with a strong front, but also a defense that gives up yards. The Lions rank 26th against the run (124.6 yards), 20th against the pass (268.2 yards). He will have chances and opportunities to make plays. He will also have Josh Gordon on the field, which Hoyer had and Weeden did not have the first two games.
The team around him has shown it can win with good quarterback play.
Now it’s time for Weeden, a first-round draft pick in 2012, to show that his time has arrived.