Weeden has to step up for Browns

The SportsXchange

The Browns want more from Brandon Weeden when they return from their bye for the final seven games, and if he does not improve, new CEO Joe Banner might decide the 29-year-old rookie is not the right quarterback to lead the way going forward.

Banner and his boss, new owner Jimmy Haslam, have decided to wait until after the season to make any changes in the front office or coaching staff. By extension, that would also include any changes in philosophies.

The Browns have scored 169 points. They are ahead of last year's pace when they finished with 218, but they have scored the fewest points in the AFC North. The Bengals have scored 189, the Steelers 191 and the Ravens 199 points. The Browns are last in the AFC North in scoring despite the fact the other three teams have already had their bye. They have each played eight games and the Browns have played nine.

Only the Chiefs are worse in the red zone. The Chiefs, who have never led in a game this season, have been inside the 20-yard-line 19 times and scored six touchdowns. The Browns have made 18 red zone trips and have six touchdowns to show for them. The red zone offense hit rock bottom in the 25-15 loss to the Ravens when it was inside the 20 five times and scored five field goals.

"It's just a matter of practicing and getting all the timing right," tight end Jordan Cameron before players scattered for a five-day mini-vacation. "It's a matter of the details. All the guys have to do exactly what they're supposed to be doing each play. There were plays left on the field (vs. Baltimore). We'll look at it and correct those mistakes.

"You're not going to have a perfect game, ever. So we'll correct it and try to get better for the next game (Nov. 18 in Dallas)."

Weeden ranks 32nd among quarterbacks in the fourth quarter (and 32nd overall). The top three fourth-quarter quarterbacks are Jay Cutler of the Bears, Peyton Manning of the Broncos and Aaron Rodgers from the Packers. Manning has thrown nine touchdown passes and no interceptions in the fourth quarter.

Weeden has completed 51 of 93 passes for 604 yards with three touchdown passes and five interceptions in the fourth quarter.

"They (Weeden's numbers) need to be better, especially when we're in a situation where we need to come back," coach Pat Shurmur said. "Yeah, we need to improve there."

Weeden's struggles in the red zone reflect the Browns' inefficiency inside the 20. Only three of his nine touchdown passes have been thrown inside the 20. He was 3 of 6 for eight yards in the red zone against the Ravens. He completed a pass for two yards to Alex Smith on third-and-nine from the 16 before Phil Dawson's first field goal, a four-yard pass to Smith on third-and-eight from the 15 before Dawson's second field goal, and a two-yard pass to Smith on second-and-nine from the 17 before Dawson's fourth field goal. A third down pass intended for Mohamed Massaquoi at the 6 was incomplete.

Officially, Weeden was 0-for-1 in the red zone before Dawson's fifth field goal gave the Browns a 15-14 lead in the fourth quarter. He threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Josh Gordon two plays earlier, but the play was wiped out because of an illegal formation penalty.

Offensive coordinator Brad Childress wants Weeden to be aggressive, but ever since throwing two red zone interceptions against the Giants, Weeden has been extra careful.

"You want to be aggressive (in the red zone), but you also want to have a huge amount of concern for the football," Shurmur said. "There are times when teams won't let you throw it. We have to get more out of our checkdowns. When we chose to run the football we have to get more yardage."

The Browns have scored six rushing touchdowns and nine passing touchdowns.
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