Ready or not, Weeden back for Browns

Ready or not, Weeden back for Browns
October 4, 2013, 9:30 am
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The headline on Bud Shaw’s Plain Dealer column after the Browns’ 37-24 win over the Bills on Thursday night sums up how Cleveland fans are feeling about the QB situation: “Cleveland Browns' quarterback Brandon Weeden is back by default, not popular demand.”
The Browns’ newfound quarterback darling, former third-stringer Brian Hoyer, went out early in Thursday’s game, his knee twisted as he was tackled on a scramble, and early reports are that he may have suffered torn ligaments.

So back came Weeden, last year’s first-round draft pick, the season-opening starter sidelined for a couple of weeks by a sprained thumb, during which Hoyer had led the Browns to two wins and had wrested away the No. 1 spot, regardless of any old-school talk about how you shouldn’t lose your job to an injury. And when Weeden couldn’t move the Browns in his first couple of series, the fans let him hear it.

Still, Weeden ended up a respectable 13 of 24 for 197 yards and a touchdown, throwing no interceptions and connecting on some deep balls. But still …

“Weeden makes plays with his arm. And he did that Thursday. He also takes too many sacks and doesn’t get the ball out,” Shaw wrote. “…Nobody doubts Weeden's arm.”

And here comes the “but.”

“The problem is in three crisp starts, Hoyer downgraded the importance of bazooka arm strength from ‘nice to have’ to ‘meh.’”

For now, and maybe for quite a while given the assumed seriousness of Hoyer’s injury, Weeden again is the starter for the Browns, who find themselves 3-2 and assured of at least staying tied for the AFC North lead for another week. But it’s not every game he’ll go up against a rookie free-agent quarterback — Jeff Tuel, forced into action when EJ Manuel was hurt — and get the benefit of punt and interception returns for touchdowns.

Hoyer made a lot of his chance that came via injury. Now Cleveland waits to see what Weeden does with his own.