In Brandon Weeden, the Cleveland Browns Have a New Scapegoat

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The Cleveland Browns have, since 1999, largely had a tradition of terrible offenses and quarterback changes. One of those has continued during the first two games of the 2013 NFL regular season. The other could be soon to follow.

Quarterback Brandon Weeden has been heavily scrutinized by analysts and by the Cleveland faithful ever since he was taken by the Browns in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft. That the Browns, in need of more than a few players in order to be a contender, would take a quarterback closer to 30-years old than to 25 didn't make all that much sense on paper. The QB who was supposed to be more NFL-ready than your standard rookie has not met the high expectations.

Weeden has, in fact, been no different than every other starting quarterback the Browns have had since returning to the league in 1999. Each of those individuals have had one unfortunate thing in common: All have lost more than they have won. Now, with Weeden set to miss at least one game because of a sprained thumb, it's not out of the question that he has, despite being in the league for not even a season and a half, started his last game with the Browns.

I'm not here to bang the drum for Weeden. Every criticism - that he lacks poise, that he misses open WRs too often, and that he is Derek Anderson-esque in his lack of touch on his passes - is justified. None of those traits erase the fact that the Cleveland offense is, after two games, one of the worst in the NFL.

Weeden is just a small part of that problem.

It all starts with an offensive line that has been shockingly poor. Weeden has already been sacked 11 times this season. He has taken a recorded 28 hits in two games. That doesn't even count the times he has been forced to scramble out of the pocket, or instances in which he has had passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage.

Weeden is not, nor was he ever supposed to be, a mobile quarterback. A pocket-passer like Weeden will have zero chance to succeed when playing behind an O-line that specializes in "look out!" blocking. Imagine if Tom Brady, a proven first-ballot future Hall of Fame QB, had to run for his life once a series.

Cleveland's QB has also had to play two games this season without having a true No. 1 or, if we're being honest about it, No. 2 wide receiver. Josh Gordon, the team's play-maker at the position, will return from suspension in Week 3. Greg Little's struggles with catching the football have been well documented. Tight end Jordan Cameron and possession receiver Davone Bess have been Weeden's only reliable offensive weapons. No disrespect to those two individuals, but that's not going to cut it on Sundays.

With Weeden injured and expected to be sidelined in Week 3, either Jason Campbell or Brian Hoyer will get the start this coming Sunday. It will be hard for head coach Rob Chudzinski to relegate either guy back to the bench if the Cleveland offense plays well and the Browns shock the Vikings in Minnesota. Nobody in the franchise's current administration nor on the Cleveland coaching staff picked Weeden to be the team's quarterback of the future. His being benched would likely mean little to the people who would make that decision.

Ben Roethlisberger had Hines Ward and Jerome Bettis. Philip Rivers had Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson. Eli Manning had Amani Toomer, Tiki Barber and Plaxico Burress. Andrew Luck has Reggie Wayne.

Sometimes, an offense's problems don't begin and end with its quarterback.

For more: Browns want Johnny Football?

Zac has been following Cleveland sports since a little before his birth, and thus his heart breaks a little more with every year. He has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the NFL for Yahoo Sports since 2010

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