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2012 Position Review: Quarterback

Posted Jan 14, 2013

As ClevelandBrowns.com looks back at the 2012 season, we break down the year position-by-position and today’s spotlight is on the quarterbacks.

Overview:

The Cleveland Browns addressed the quarterback situation when they selected Brandon Weeden out of Oklahoma State University in the first round (No. 22 overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft.

Weeden was named the starter shortly before the end of training camp and started the first 15 games of the season before suffering a right-shoulder injury during the team’s loss at Denver in the second-to-last game of the year. Weeden won five of his starts, more than any Browns quarterback since Derek Anderson’s 15 during his 2007 Pro Bowl season.

In those 15 starts, Weeden completed 297 of 517 attempts (57.4 percent) for 3,385 yards and 14 touchdowns against 17 interceptions despite being sacked 28 times for 186 lost yards. His five victories and 3,385 passing yards were Browns rookie records, as were his 364 yards in a 20-17 win at the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 2, 2012.

Among first-year NFL quarterbacks, Weeden finished in the top five in passing yards, passing first downs (168), and completions of 20 or more yards (48).

When Weeden went out of the lineup with the shoulder injury, third-year veteran Colt McCoy completed nine of 17 attempts for 79 yards and a six-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Greg Little in the fourth quarter at Denver. However, McCoy suffered an injured shoulder when he was sacked four times against the Broncos and also missed the season finale at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In McCoy’s place, Thaddeus Lewis started against Pittsburgh and completed 22 of 32 attempts for 204 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

As a team, the Browns’ three starting quarterbacks combined to complete 328 of 566 attempts (58.0 percent) for 3,668 yards and 16 touchdowns against 18 interceptions. Including veteran Josh Johnson, who took the last offensive snap of the season, the Browns’ signal-callers were sacked 36 times for 233 lost yards.

Outstanding Performer:

Weeden compiled four of the team’s top five games for passing yards by a rookie. His three 300-yard passing games joined him with Anderson, Bernie Kosar, Brian Sipe and Pro Football Hall of Famer, the late Otto Graham, as the only quarterbacks in team history to throw for 300 or more yards at least three times in a single season. Anderson (three in 2007) and Graham (three in 1950) each accomplished the feat once, while Kosar reached the mark twice (three each in 1986 and 1987). Sipe tossed four 300-yard games in 1979, and again in 1983, and six in 1980, when he earned NFL MVP honors.

He also led the team on a three-game winning streak that made the playoffs a mathematical possibility heading into the team’s final home game, against the Washington Redskins, on Dec. 16. It was the Browns’ first three-game winning streak since the team won four straight at the end of the 2009 season.

Key Numbers:

62, 71.

In back-to-back weeks in October, Weeden completed 62- and 71-yard touchdown passes to rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon. The 62-yard score came at the reigning world champion New York Giants on Oct. 7, 2012. The next week, Weeden’s 71-yard touchdown throw helped the Browns to their first win of the year.

Weeden’s 71-yard touchdown ranks as the second-longest touchdown throw ever by a Browns rookie.

What To Watch For:

As the season went on, Weeden was able to utilize the speed of Gordon and fellow first-year wide receiver, Travis Benjamin, to stretch a defense. Gordon finished the year as the team’s leader with 805 yards and five receiving touchdowns, while Benjamin averaged a team-best 16.6 yards per reception and had a 69-yard touchdown against Washington.

According to new coach Rob Chudzinski, a former offensive coordinator with both the Browns (2007-08) and Carolina Panthers (2011-12), his offense will stretch the field vertically and feature a balanced attack, one where the quarterback will make the passes when needed in order to win games.