Going into halftime with a 17-7 lead emotions were running high at First Energy Stadium. By the end of the third quarter it was a three point game and you could sense the air coming out of the sails for the 71,000 plus in attendance.
By the middle of the fourth quarter, the Lions went ahead 21-17 and never looked back, finishing off the Browns 31-17. As the fans filed out of the stadium, they had to wonder what if quarterback Brandon Weeden didn’t perform a pop warner move to end all hopes of a comeback.
More times than not, Weeden has been guilty of a play that just makes you shake your head in disbelief and wonder what on earth was he thinking. This time it happened when the Browns were trying to put a drive together and tie the game 24-24 late in the fourth quarter. Unable to avoid a sack by former Brown C.J. Mosley, Weeden wrapped up and on his way down, threw an underhand lob toss in the direction of Chris Ogbonnaya toward the sideline. Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy jumped in front of him for an easy pick and with it pretty much ended any chance of a Browns comeback.
By his own admission, Weeden agreed with anyone and everyone that witnessed that play at the stadium or in front of a tv. “It was a boneheaded play,” said Weeden. “It’s on me. I should’ve taken the sack. I was trying to throw it over Obie’s head.”
Nobody will ever question Brandon Weeden’s arm strength, that is the one positive he does have going for himself. Where he lacks heavily it seems, is his decision making and pocket awareness skills. How many times have we seen him drop back, lock on one receiver and by the time he checks on another, he has held on to the ball too long and takes a bad sack. Or in another instance, he is throwing a jump ball up to a third down running back which results in an interception, when if it were Josh Gordon or Jordan Cameron it would make sense to take that risk.
Then there are plays like today’s embarrassing underhanded lob toss, that just might go down as the ugliest NFL pass ever thrown by a quarterback.
On first down and ten from the Lions 44 yard line with the Browns driving to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, the infamous play reared its ugly head. After starting on their own sixteen yard line, Weeden connected with Josh Gordon twice and Jordan Cameron once to move the ball down the field into Lion territory. Just as everyone thought there might be some fourth quarter magic, Weeden yet again laid a head scratcher on us and put to bed any hopes of pulling this one out.
As I wrote earlier in the week, and my colleague Peter Smith touched on earlier this evening, the answer to the Browns quarterback woes is probably not on this roster. It has been clear for sometime that Brandon Weeden is definitely not the guy in Cleveland. Today’s play reaffirmed the lack of football IQ he has shown throughout his young career, which is necessary to becoming a very good quarterback in this league, and one that is able to lead his team to a championship. It’s clear Brandon Weeden is just not a franchise quarterback in this league, and yet another failed first round savior of this franchise.
Is Brian Hoyer the answer? Honestly, we really don’t know at this point with his small sample size of just two games. In those two games and the one drive of the third, he looked like a guy that had command of the offense and put his guys in position to make plays. I would say it’s a safe bet that the front office will bring in a first round talent and let Hoyer compete with him and see who earns the job. Worst case scenario, Hoyer wins the job and the rookie waits his turn and learns the offense waiting for his chance.
Either way, the one thing we know probably know for sure is Brandon Weeden will not be on the roster this time next year.