If Weeden Is Truly The Long-Term Answer, He Has To First Become A Leader
By Steven King
Nearly all of the talk this offseason about whether QB Brandon Weeden can be the long-term answer for the Cleveland Browns at quarterback has focused on his physical abilities.
And while that – arm strength, reading defenses, managing the game, etc. -- is obviously important, it’s certainly not the total picture. It never is with quarterbacks, especially in the NFL. A quarterback in this league has to be a leader and Weeden addressed his intent to be just that the other day for the Browns as the team began a three-day minicamp. Weeden said that even though he was the starter, he was hesitant to do that last season since he was a rookie and needed to first see how he fit in with the rest of the team.
That’s not a good sign.
Quarterback is the most important position in team sports, so a player at that spot – whether he’s a rookie or not – is the club’s on-field CEO. He has to take it upon himself to assume command of the huddle, the offense and, in many respects, the team overall. If he doesn’t do that, then he’s really not the quarterback.
All the great Browns quarterbacks in history – from Otto Graham to Frank Ryan to Bill Nelsen to Brian Sipe to Bernie Kosar – have done that from the moment they first went under center.
Kosar’s debut was especially memorable – telling and significant. He came on for an injured Gary Danielson against the New England Patriots in the second quarter of the fifth game of his rookie season in 1985. There was a lot of chattering going on when Kosar got to the huddle. He stood there for a moment and took it all in, then screamed, “Shut up!” All the veterans just stared at him and then they promptly shut up.
Pro Football Hall of Fame TE Ozzie Newsome said later that he knew at that moment Kosar, just 21 years old, was going to be special after having the nerve to lay down the law to a bunch of older players. A person either has that leadership chip in his computer or he doesn’t. There is no in-between and there’s also no real way to develop it.
So while it’s noble for Weeden to say he’s going to become the leader is not realistic. He might become a little better at it this season under the guidance of coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Norv Turner, but it’s highly unlikely he’ll take giant strides.
Sure, it could happen, particularly if Weeden and the Browns get off to a good start next season and his teammates start buying in to him. But don’t bet on it.
In fact, that shortcoming may be part of the reason why Browns CEO Joe Banner and GM Mike Lombardi aren’t high on Weeden and wanted to go in another direction at quarterback until Chudzinski and Turner convinced them to do otherwise.
It’s just another thing to watch and factor into the equation as this whole Browns quarterback situation moves forward.