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First and 10: The rest of the story

By Pat McManamon

First and 10 started here this week. Following is … the rest of the story:

11) Brandon Weeden’s play against Washington was a clunker. He’s on pace to perhaps have the second-most passing yards by a rookie in NFL history, but he’s thrown 17 interceptions and his rating ranks him 32nd in the league. He’s also 29, which changes that prism by which he’s viewed (at 22, these would be “young mistakes.”) But the Browns drafted Weeden knowing he’d be 29 during the season (four months younger than Derek Anderson). He had to be good, right away. At times, he’s shown he can play. At times he’s looked very good. That throw to Josh Gordon in Indianapolis stands out. At other times, he’s looked lost and slow-footed and indecisive. These are all symptoms of a rookie, but the Browns also said a few weeks ago that Weeden no longer should be looked on as a rookie. So … Weeden really needs a couple good games to end the season. Against some very real and meaningful competition.

12) What did one highly regarded personnel guy say about Weeden prior to the draft? It wasn’t pretty. He thought Weeden was a guy with bad footwork who did not react well to pressure. That he locks on a receiver, and can’t really move in the pocket. That he never got a lot of pressure at Oklahoma State and when he did he had Justin Blackmon to bail him out. These were the knocks that prompted one front office type to say the Browns wasted a pick when they took him. But there have been times this season when he was able to stand in the face of pressure and deliver a good pass — as in Baltimore and Indianapolis when Greg Little and Josh Gordon dropped touchdowns. There have been times Weeden has looked good. But there have been times when he’s really, really struggled. And struggling with the season winding down is the worst possible time.

13) Trent Richardson is a bit of an enigma. His per-carry average is way below expected, but he’s produced a bunch of touchdowns. He has made some super plays when fully healthy, but has really slowed down since taking that shot to the ribs against Cincinnati. He plows through people at the goal-line, but runs into them at the 50. Meanwhile, a guy like Alfred Morris of Washington — a late-round rookie — is bigger, seems quicker and runs with more fluidity than Richardson, who is all herky-jerky. Richardson has done far too much to be considered a bust, but it’s pretty lame for the Browns to publicize him as the all-time leading rookie rusher when he’s going to pass Jim Brown in 16 games while Brown played 12. How important is Richardson’s production?  If the playoffs were today, the NFL’s top five rushing teams — Washington, San Francisco, Seattle, Minnesota and Houston — would be in the playoffs.

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