In classic Cleveland Browns fashion, the quarterback who started winning for them, Brian Hoyer was injured early, putting Brandon Weeden back in the picture. Surprisingly, Weeden didn’t blow this opportunity, and made it three wins in a row for a team that doesn’t really remember what it’s like being over .500.
In their first 3-2 start since the 2001 season, the Cleveland Browns got over their quarterback set back with some excellent defense, forcing EJ Manuel out of the game with an injury and being just as aggressive and persistent with Tuel, while Weeden himself had great success in getting the ball to Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, en route to a 37-24 victory.
Weeden didn’t make much of being benched for Hoyer, because it’s hard arguing with someone who wins two consecutive games, although now he might be out for the entire season. Weeden finished with 13-of-24 for 197 yards and one touchdown, but he did have a hard time avoiding the pressure, getting sacked five times during the game. The Browns don’t have much of a running game, but anyone can do well against the Bills’ run-defense, gaining 91 yards, 72 of them coming from Willis McGahee.
Whether I was the starter, eyes are still on you to see how you respond, to see how you react. I was upbeat the entire time and never let it bother me. Inside, it just kind of lit a fire. We don’t care about history. This is a new year and a new team.
If there’s one thing the Browns are doing right this season is their defense, ranked 9th in the NFL against the pass and 8th against the run. The Bills completed less than 50% of their passes with both quarterbacks, getting sacked four times and finding it very hard, especially against Brian Skrine, finishing with 6 tackles, a sack and two batted passes.
The Bills quarterbacks were under duress on 40% of their dropbacks. E.J. Manuel and Jeff Tuel were a combined 3-of-13 passing when under duress, with four sacks. Manuel hasn’t seen this kind of pressure this season, being under duress on 23% of his dropbacks on the first four games of the season.
Weeden coming through was the surprise, the X-Factor the Bills needed. He found Josh Gordon for his only touchdown pass, as the rising receiver caught four passes for 86 yards. Jordan Cameron was his other big target, finding the tight end three times for 35 yards. It was mostly about those two.
Brandon Weeden completed 77.8% of his passes when targeting Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. When targeting his other receivers, Weeden completed 40%. Brandon Weeden completed 6-of-9 passes thrown more than 10 yards downfield, including a 37-yard touchdown to Josh Gordon. The Bills are the worst in the NFL when it comes to stopping big plays, allowing more completions for 10 or more yards downfield than any other team.
It’s hard to see the Browns going far with such a limited offense, but in the AFC North which is having quite a down year in terms of quality, a solid defense and hopefully Weeden not making the mistakes that have been such a big part of his career so far, hoping to finish in one of the top two spots isn’t such a far fetched ambition.