I decided after my exercise in recapping this afternoon to figure out some ways to look at the bright side. It is in my nature, anyway, so why not? So, here are five (non-slideshow) reasons to help us all think that Brandon Weeden’s first game as a pro was something of a fluke and he can be better.
5. The Eagles defense is really good. Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were blankets all day when the throws weren’t being rushed incessantly by the Eagles defensive line. It is reasonable to assume that this game one, healthy version of the Eagles defense is about as good as any defense the Browns will face all year.
4. The receivers are still young too. That defense was in Weeden’s face all day, but they also knocked young guys off their routes and made life difficult for guys like Greg Little and Josh Gordon who are still very green. The QB always takes too much blame and credit, and yes, the guys were open and overthrown at times, but they’re a big part of the equation too. That chemistry can and should get better because Weeden does have the arm-strength to get them the ball.
3. Trent Richardson was drafted far higher than Weeden. Yes, the two top QBs were off the board by the time the Browns had to pick, but the #3 guy in the draft is supposed to be the rookie taking the load off of the other one. Because Richardson was injured for the pre-season and looked incredibly rusty, he wasn’t able to keep the pass rush and defensive backfield honest. He also seemed at least partially responsible for some failings in the screen pass game early on.
2. The offensive line should also improve. Even in this game, I thought the offensive line improved over some of what we saw in the pre-season. Yes, they got beaten sometimes, but any defense with Jason Babin will do that to you on occasion. What I (think I) saw today was an offensive line already slightly improved from the pre-season. They have talent so they should continue to gain chemistry with their quarterback and their running back given more practice time as a total offensive unit. See, those screen passes and imagine if they were on time and completed between the QB, RB and O-Line.
1. Brandon Weeden arrived in this league as a pro. He looked like a rookie, but he said himself he’ll be the first guy in the building tomorrow morning. Weeden was simply awful against the Eagles, but there’s no denying his work ethic and abilities to throw the ball. While effort is far from the biggest factor to NFL success, it is an important one. Weeden seems like a guy to bet on between the ears to not fold at the first sign of adversity.
So there you go. These aren’t locks, but certainly this is the glass half full look at the way things can be better if… well, just if…
See you next week in Cincinnati.