How he beats you: Drafted out of Oklahoma State with the 22nd pick of April’s draft, Weeden beat out Colt McCoy for starting duties and is on his second professional sports career. He was drafted by the New York Yankees in 2002 and spent ’02-06 in the Yankees, Dodgers and Royals organizations. The 29-year-old rookie boasts a big arm, and is only the third Browns player to throw for 3,000 yards since the franchise was revived in 1999. Weeden looks often to fellow rookie Josh Gordon, who leads the team with five touchdown catches and 732 receiving yards (averaging 17.4 yards per catch). Weeden and the Browns are on their hottest stretch of the season. They have won their last three games.
“I think he gets more comfortable every week,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said of Weeden. “… He’s done some outstanding things this year. Of course, each game, there’s a play or two he’d love to have back. Along the way …even though you’re a very accomplished quarterback at the college level, there are certain things you need to learn about when you play the game at this level.”
How to stop him: Although he has big play ability, Weeden still is learning to read coverages and has a tendency to force throws. That ends up hurting his team. Although he has 13 touchdown passes, he also has thrown 15 interceptions. He tends to do better when fellow rookie Trent Richardson has a strong rushing game. But inconsistency by backs and receivers has caused Weeden to struggle at times. The Redskins will try to pressure Weeden into mistakes, throwing different fronts and looks in the secondary at him.
Said nose tackle Barry Cofield: “You’ve got to try to confuse him. … We’re going to try to throw some things at him, try to confuse him with pre-snap looks and come with something different when the ball is snapped. But that’s what you try to do with every quarterback. You still have to execute in order to win.”
Getting to Weeden is no easy task. As Cofield points out, the Browns have an underrated offensive line, which has given up only 24 sacks all year (seventh best in the NFL), and Weeden’s coaches draw up plays to get the ball out of his hand quickly.