Is Weeden the next Flacco ... or Boller?

Is Weeden the next Flacco ... or Boller?
November 4, 2012, 8:00 pm
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Much like the Ravens five years ago, the Browns handed the keys of their offense to a rookie quarterback drafted in the first round.

Unfortunately for the Browns, at this point that rookie quarterback, Brandon Weeden, looks a lot less like Joe Flacco and a lot more like a different Ravens first-round quarterback: Kyle Boller.

To be fair, Flacco didn't set the world on fire immediately. In Flacco's first five games, he threw one touchdown and seven interceptions, but by season's end, he (and the defense) had led the Ravens to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth.

After the Ravens' 25-15 win at Cleveland on Sunday, Weeden still looks to be a long way from a playoff quarterback. He certainly isn't helped by his supporting cast; his receivers frequently drop catchable balls. They run third-down pass patterns that leave them a couple of yards short of the first down.

The coaching staff doesn't help with its decision-making at times, either. On the Browns' first possession, Trent Richardson barged ahead for 9 yards on second down, and then facing third-and-1, rather than run Richardson for the first down, the Browns called a pass play, which Weeden threw incomplete.

No decision, though, was more questionable than the fourth-and-2 call from Cleveland's 28-yard line with 3:53 left in the game. The Ravens had  trouble making first downs much of the game, but rather than punt and make the Ravens get another first down or two, the Browns went for the first down. Weeden threw high on a quick slant that never had a chance.

It was one of many poor throws or misreads by Weeden. He had nervous feet, bailing out with inaccurate dump-offs at times or throws behind receivers. At times he failed to see open receivers, and at other times he made poor, back-foot throws. On the pass that Cary Williams intercepted -- which came one play after Ed Reed should have had an interception -- tight end Jordan Cameron had no idea the ball was coming.

Maybe these are growing pains for a rookie quarterback. The Browns have done a lot right in the draft lately and have some impressive young players. But Weeden isn't young. He is a 29-year-old rookie whose college (and pro) career started late because of a minor league baseball career.

The Browns are hoping he can be the one to lead this franchise out of the depths of the AFC North. But on Sunday, he looked a lot more like Kyle Boller than Joe Flacco, and that isn't exactly the Ravens quarterback to emulate.