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No Luck at All
MARK BECHTEL
December 03, 2012
If the Colts are the model of QB consistency, what does that make Cleveland? And what can a 29-year-old rookie do to change that?
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December 03, 2012

No Luck At All

If the Colts are the model of QB consistency, what does that make Cleveland? And what can a 29-year-old rookie do to change that?

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"Most important," he adds, "don't listen."

Here's the type of thing Weeden might want to hear: He has taken too much of the blame for the Browns' abysmal record. His receivers have dropped 26 passes, third highest in the NFL. Two of those have been especially costly. Greg Little had a would-be 34-yard TD go through his hands in the fourth quarter of a 23--16 loss to the Ravens in Week 4, and Gordon bungled a potential 41-yard fourth-quarter TD in a 17--13 loss to the Colts.

Perhaps as much blame should go to Shurmur's game management and play-calling, most notably when he burned three timeouts in the second Baltimore game because his team couldn't get a play set up in time.

The Browns (and, especially, their fans) don't do moral victories, but in seven of their eight losses they have finished within a touchdown and had possession to end the game. And while Weeden's 70.9 passer rating ranks second to last among the 30 QBs who've started at least eight games, his progress compared with Manning's debut season 14 years ago leaves reason for hope. In Weeden's first 11 games as a pro, his team is 3--8, with surprise wins against the Bengals, the Chargers and, for the first time in five meetings, the Steelers. He has thrown for 2,456 yards with a 55.9% completion rate, and he has 12 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He's had four games with a passer rating of 85 or better.

In Manning's first 11 games, his team's record was 2--9. He threw for 2,453 yards with a 54.8% completion rate, with 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions; and he only once had a passer rating of 85 or better.

On Nov. 6, Shurmur declared of Weeden, "He's our guy."

This being Cleveland, however, Haslam's right-hand man, CEO Joe Banner, told The Plain Dealer two days later that Weeden was "on the list of important things we have to figure out." Instead of playing to learn, the 29-year-old rookie is now playing for his job.

Scoring just 20 points on Sunday against a Steelers team that turned the ball over eight times did little to further Weeden's cause. That Cleveland won the game did little to silence his critics. One fan on Twitter joked that Weeden hadn't suffered a concussion but a broken hip.

"We made a commitment that we were going to flip the roster around, and I would say we've held to that," says Shurmur. "Some folks don't want to admit it, but some of this takes time."

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