Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

How long will we be waiting on Weeden?

Jack Turben knows more about baseball and football than I do, so perhaps in this instance I should defer to his superior instincts.

Still, I think I may have a shot at being correct in the long run, so let’s wait a while and see how it works out.

This is the matter in dispute: He thinks Brandon Weeden has a chance of being the Browns quarterback of the future. I take the opposing view.

The mayor of Kirtland Hills and I were sitting in the living room of his spectacular Frank Lloyd Wright home in Madison, right on the shore of Lake Erie, talking about sports in general. A dozen or more ladies were nearby, still basking in the afterglow of an equally spectacular meal prepared by a mess crew (an old Army term) consisting of me and the lady of the house along with Mickey and Jan Kapostasy and Denis and Sheila Nowacki.

The six of us combine our efforts on culinary extravaganzas only on special occasions. This was one of them. Jack and Susie Turben had invited several ladies from their church — First Presbyterian in Willoughby — to lunch.

But lunch was over. It was time for Jack and me to talk sports. (Anyone who thinks that should read “Jack and I” should be spanked and sent back to grammar school. But I digress.)

I offered my opinion of Weeden. Jack gave his. On this we agreed: He is a big guy. He has a strong arm. He was a good quarterback in college. He has a strong arm. (Oops, I already said that.)

The Browns didn’t play last Sunday. They return to the football skirmishes today. Let’s see what happens.

This I do know: Weeden’s last game, two weeks ago, was a disaster. But I am not basing my opinion of his abilities solely on that single game. I have watched every game he has played this year, and save for a couple glimmers of competence, I find nothing in his overall performance to give reason for excitement, enthusiasm, optimism or even hope.

I have watched every quarterback who has played in the National Football League since 1950 — and before that, actually. I saw Bob Waterfield and Sammy Baugh play in the championship game between the Cleveland Rams and the Washington Redskins in 1945, I saw Sid Luckman play for the Bears, and I saw Frankie Sinkwich with a sheepskin brace on his fractured jaw play for the Lions.

Will Weeden ever perform up to their skill levels? Of course. But it would be nice if he could play as well as, say, Bernie Kosar or Brian Sipe.

Rich Gannon saw Weeden two weeks ago against the Ravens.

Rich is a former NFL Most Valuable Player quarterback and a four-time Pro Bowler.

He was one of the announcers for the Browns-Ravens game — for the last two Browns games, actually —and has seen most of the Browns games this season.

He knows whereof he speaks. And he was relentless in his criticism of Weeden throughout the game. I understand Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner, the team’s new owner and CEO, also saw the game. I wonder if they found any areas of agreement with Gannon. It is they who will decide who the Browns quarterback of the future will be. If it turns out to be Weeden, I fear they will be in for some major disappointments.

If he is the second coming of Otto Graham, I will be the first to tell Jack Turben, “You told me so.”

Weeden’s failings two weeks ago, as pointed out for three hours by Gannon, included overthrowing wide-open receivers, failing to see open receivers and throwing to a player who was not open, being slow on his “reads,” being locked on his primary receiver and thus failing to see the entire field, and on and on.

“There were plays to be had in that game,” Gannon said. “I don’t  know where his eyes were.”

But remember, this is a young player. He’s only 29 years old. Perhaps he will learn someday where his eyes should be. Today at Dallas, maybe he’ll pass for 400 yards.
Or 500-plus, as Norm Van Brocklin once did. But then again, maybe not.

To demonstrate that I’m a true fan, I really do hope he passes for 400 yards today.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t depart without yet another trivia question from Jack: Name four colleges that have produced both a Super Bowl quarterback and a president of the United States.

I did pretty well on that one – with only a tiny bit of hinting. But I did a little research afterwards, Jack. It wasn’t William Henry Harrison, it was his grandson who went to Miami of Ohio.

So as not to keep you in suspense, the other colleges are Michigan, the U.S. Naval Academy and Stanford. With that much help, the rest is easy.

Footnote: You get full credit if you name either of the two quarterbacks from Stanford.


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