We can focus on the negative. There is plenty of that. Such is a season of Cleveland Browns football.
At 1-6, the Browns appear to once again be in the battle for the draft's first overall pick. In Brownstown, it's never too early to start talking NFL Draft, eh?
Let's table that and focus on the only position that causes much debate in this town. Right tackle.
Kidding. Although John St. Clair and Roger Chanoine still give me night terrors.
Brandon Weeden now has seven professional football games under his belt. What do you think? True, the bar is set low — way low — in this town for a capable quarterback. It's just been so long, as evident by the amount of No. 19 jerseys you'll see Sunday.
Since Weeden's abomination of a season-opening performance, he is 142-for-237 passing for a completion percentage of 59.9 percent for 1,665 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions.
"(Weeden's progress) has been slow and steady," Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress said. "All you ever want to know is what standard of performance you're going to get from somebody. I think he's developing a consistency that we expect."
The Browns are receiving solid numbers from a quarterback. Hey, we'll take that for now considering the Browns running game and receiving talent has been spotty at best. Trent Richardson is expected to try and make it a go Sunday, but his bruised ribs appeared to be a hindrance last Sunday. In Richardson's stead, Montario Hardesty has 84 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. In addition, Chris Ogbonnaya is averaging 4.0 yards per carry and 9.1 yards per reception. And, oh by the way, Brandon Jackson is getting paid $2.25 million this year for what exactly? To be placed on the inactive list week in and week out. Head, scratched.
The Browns have a stable of running backs yet when facing the NFL's 29th-ranked rushing defense last week, they ran the ball only 17 times.
This week, the Chargers are ranked second in the league allowing an average of 71.2 rushing yards per game. So can we expect a commitment to the running game this week when it doesn't make statistical sense?
"There are times when it makes sense to come out and run the ball a bunch in the first quarter because that's the best way to score," Browns head coach Pat Shurmur said. "There are times when it makes more sense to start the game by throwing a little bit more. I think in the last couple of weeks we've done a good job with our first drives and you see a different combination of things and then it plays out from there."
If the Browns aren't going to show a commitment to the run and the team is facing a tough run defense this week, it would make sense that the game falls on the shoulders of Weeden.
Is he ready? A rookie quarterback's best friend is a consistent running game. If that's not there, it is up to Weeden to go out and win the game. Now, he'll need help from his receivers. We're looking at you Josh Gordon and Greg Little.
Weeden has shown a penchant for being able to move the ball, but for whatever reason — not enough urgency, not enough talent at wide out — the Browns have fallen short.
The Chargers are ranked dead last in allowing 14 touchdown passes in six games this season. Their signature loss came in their last game. Monday Night Football on Oct. 15, the Chargers led the Broncos 24-0 at halftime before allowing 35-second half points. Manning finished 24-for-30 passing for 309 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
Similar numbers would do just fine for Weeden and the Browns. If the Browns are not going to rely on their running game, might as well do it with Weeden's arm.
He's shown his ability to make better decisions as the season continues. It is time he decides to take this team on his shoulders and go win a game. If the Chargers' performance in their last game is any indication, it appears the Chargers' defense would oblige.