Somewhere in the 92-year history of the National Football League, someone probably had a worse debut at quarterback than Brandon Weeden of the Cleveland Browns. However, finding such a performance would take a heck of a lot of research, and any time you’re in the conversation for something that requires lots of research — well, it speaks for itself.
One thing we do know is this — Weeden is certainly the first quarterback in NFL history to start his career by getting trapped underneath an American flag on the field. For any other NFL team — Bills excluded, of course — such a thing would merely be treated as an amusing side story. Browns fans will no doubt be concluding it is an omen portending future disaster.
That’s certainly the way things played out Sunday, as Weeden went 12 for 35 for 118 yards and four interceptions for a sterling 5.1 quarterback rating.
Weeden’s inability to throw the deep ball put him in some dreadful company. He was 0 for 9 on throws more than 10 yards downfield, three of which were picked off. He’s the third quarterback since 2008 to attempt that many long passes without a single completion. The others are J.P. Losman and Brodie Croyle.
Despite Weeden’s incompetence, Cleveland still nearly won after picking off Michael Vick four times. However, Vick was able to find Clay Harbor (a bad place to dock your boat) on a 4-yard pass with 1:17 left to lift the Eagles to the 17-16 win. The win was not clinched until Weeden’s fourth interception, naturally.
I’ve been skeptical of Weeden since Draft Day. The guy was playing in a gimmicky college offense against guys 6-9 years younger than him. And it’s not like the Browns are a renowned source of talent assessment. (I’ll take Courtney Brown and Tim Couch for 300, Alex!)
However, I will note that Browns fans shouldn’t panic just yet. Even though he’s 28, Weeden is still a rookie. Going from Oklahoma State to a pro-style offense is going to take some adjustment. And the results of a first game aren’t necessarily the harbinger for one’s career, or we’d be preparing a plaque for Tuffy Rhodes in Cooperstown.
Every law of probability suggests Weeden has to get better than this— if not at avoiding interceptions, at least at avoiding giant flags.