Brandon Weeden and his eyes: Cleveland Browns Roundtable


No, this isn’t a conversation about how dreamy Brandon Weeden’s eyes are. It sputtered out, but we decided to do a roundtable about Brandon Weeden in the wake of his comments today when asked about staring down receivers.

Craig: I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone watching that Brandon Weeden might have an issue with staring down his first option on every single play. It was pointed out all last season and the first two weeks of pre-season this year both at WFNY and at numerous other locations. When asked about it today, Weeden said, “Last time I checked, you gotta look at who you’re throwing to.” He also said that he knows he needs to look off the safety with his eyes, but doesn’t think it’s a problem.

What do you think of all this? Is too much being made of it, or is it a known, unfixable issue that the Browns will have to deal with until they can address the QB position after this year?

Scott: I’m far from an analyst, but I assume that only the best of the best—Manning, Brady, Rogers, Brees—are well-versed in looking off safeties. Guys like Ben Roethlisberger “look” guys off with his legs; read-option guys are a whole other league. The difference is if Weeden continues to stare men down, they have to work that much harder to get separation. Are the receivers that good?

At the end of the day, the issue is known. I don’t think it’s fair to call it unfixable, however, as chemistry and comfort heals a lot of wounds.

Craig: You might be right Scott, but it seemed to me that at least this week, it was doubly harmful for the Browns. Weeden wasn’t playing well and a couple of times I thought he was going to get Jordan Cameron killed.

Jacob: I’d be even more laid-back than Scott. I don’t see this one tiny specific thing as much of an issue.

Overall, Brandon Weeden has to improve from what we saw in 2012. These two preseason games, he’s looked fine, albeit the fact it’s the preseason and against lighter competition.

He clearly needs to get better at this. But I see it as fixable and something that’s already ballooned into a typical, unnecessary Cleveland controversy.

Scott: You know how a pitcher goes into a preseason game with the goal of working solely on specific pitches regardless of the outcome? I have to assume that Chud et al are doing the same—working on certain formations, cadence, plays regardless of the outcome. Unfortunately, this is the Browns and these games are actually watched and picked apart until there are barely any discernible remains.

Rick: The biggest concern for me is when he does it. Without going back and looking at the film, it seems Weeden locks on to one receiver on third down or on critical plays.


So there you have it. What do you think? Is this a dire situation for Brandon Weeden and the Browns, or could it get better?

  • Sh00ter

    Everyone is going WAAAAAYYYYYY overboard about this. I went back and watched the game again. Weeden had some poor throws, no question. But he also had 5 drops, a holding penalty that killed the first drive, and incredibly terrible field position every time they got the ball, accept the first drive.

    What we should be talking about is a special teams crew that gave up HUGE plays on kickoffs and punts. We should be talking about a DEF that could not stop the run, or Reggie Wayne, and let Luck run for a few crucial first downs. And we should caveat all of that because Sheard, Mingo, and Bryant were all out. And we should also be talking about Richardson. Did anyone notice T Rich looks like an express train that no one wants to try to tackle? That’s pretty exciting.

    The offense had a lot of BAD breaks which contributed to some ugly series out there. However, the defense other than Kruger and BADemosi, were just plain BAD.

    My takeaways: We need Sheard on the field. We need Devone Bess on the field. We need T Rich on the field more than 2 series.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I’m not sure how big of a concern it is… watch this video of Peyton Manning highlights and tell me how often he appears to “look off” the safety. If anything, he seems to lock onto his receiver early and just wait for the guy to get open. I guess you could say that you can’t see where his eyes are looking, but neither can the safety… they can really only see the direction the helmet opening is pointing.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Both are true.

    You have to look at who and where you’re throwing, yes. You also can’t allow the defense enough time to see that AND also react to it. (It’s OK if they see it if there’s nothing they can do about it.) Watch Brady – he stares all game. Manning and Rodgers do, too. But they also balance that with good pre-snap reads so they know where they can stare, and enough look-offs on plays in the middle that safeties and others hesitate before reacting most of the time.

    For the most part, the Browns’ schemes this year are set up so that even if a defense seems to know what the Browns are doing, they can’t do a ton about it.

    Weeden is (mostly) right that it hasn’t been a problem: Zero picks, not really any knocked down balls. A few crushing hits on guys as the ball comes, but that’ll happen in the NFL, and those have mostly been on plays where the guy was not the first option, but a stationary secondary target. It wasn’t on a guy running into a full-speed safety reading Weeden’s eyes.

    That said, he should be looking away more anyway to get safeties more and more hesitant, especially on timing routes against zone Ds so they can’t guess where he’s going with it. This would allow for easier passes and more YAC.

    Finally, if he has really improved on this but teams don’t think so, it’ll actually work to his benefit. But that’s just being a dreamer. 🙂

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Thank you, was just thinking the same on Manning but too lazy to get video support. 🙂

  • mgbode

    I agree with both of you. I’ll add that alot of the time it does seem that Brady/Peyton/Rodgers/Brees are staring down the safety and then throwing to their “spot” once they realize what the defense was doing.

    So, it’s more worrisome that if it doesn’t seem that Weeden is making pre-snap audibles or defensive callouts to the WRs (which we won’t see much until week1). We’ll see.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Right. I do like that a focus has been to get to the line early, giving him the ability to do so, so one would assume that Weeden will be making more than he did in the past. I don’t think anyone really is using their audibles preseason, so there’s that; like you said, we’ll find out more about that Week 1.

  • Harv 21

    won’t repeat my long comment about this on an older thread a few hours ago except to say that I’m not sure Brandon knows the football chessboard of his own offense, or is comfortable enough in game conditions to know it under pressure. A QB has to either be able to look off a safety or get to his next option. You can’t both lock on and still only throw to that guy unless your receivers are always a yard open. May not matter greatly on a quick slant or hitting Gordon deep when he runs by everybody but those are not the majority of pass plays. And the problem is exacerbated in a congested red zone or when the defense knows you’re aiming for a certain amount of yardage.

    Scott, I think you’re mixing issues. A QB locking on draws the safety or LB who is facing the QB and reading the play to the receiver or his intended path. It’s not quite the same as the receiver getting separation from the man primarily covering him.

  • I don’t think this is blown out of proportion at all.

    If a play calls for a five step drop and the ball isn’t out by the fifth step, it gives defensive players time to read the QB’s eyes and move into space. Will it result in a pick every single time? No. Will it increase the odds a pass is batted or knocked down? Yes.

  • CB Everett

    Not to contradict your main point, but I will say that Peyton is showing incredible restraint in not staring down the cheerleaders.

  • MrCleaveland

    I think it would really help Weeden if Little and Gordon started putting to pedal to the metal, as it were.

  • Lunch

    So… does Weeden need to learn how to point his head in one direction and throw the ball in another direction in order to be good in the NFL? I just don’t see this as a major concern, especially if Weeden already knows and will try to address this problem.

  • nj0

    Yeah, this strikes me as a skill you don’t necessarily need to have to succeed, but you’d rather your QB have it than not. Considering that Weeden has had lackluster results thus far, I don’t think it’s wrong to worry that this facet of his game isn’t as polished as it should be.

  • Sam

    I heard that Browns fans are calling for Weeden to wear his helmet backwards.

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    Just get him a visor and end the discussion.

  • Lunch

    Heh, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re right.