The Ravens are making stopping Browns running back Trent Richardson priority No. 1 Sunday.
But they can’t forget about rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden.
The Browns haven’t had a dangerous passing game in years. Now it’s gaining traction under the 29-year-old, first-round pick.
“You’ve got to respect him. He’s definitely an NFL-caliber quarterback,” cornerback
The lasting image from Weeden’s first game against Baltimore was a critical interception returned 63 yards for a touchdown by Williams, which was the difference in the Ravens’ Week 4 23-16 victory.
But Weeden also threw for 320 yards that night and drove the Browns back down the field to put them in position for a potential game-winning touchdown.
In the four games since then, Weeden has thrown six touchdowns to three interceptions, and averaged a quarterback rating of 82.2, which isn’t far off
More importantly, the Browns have won two of their last three games with Weeden playing better.
“It’s been really encouraging with Brandon,” Browns Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas told the Baltimore media.
“He’s a kid that has really improved and played better every single week so far. Hopefully, we can continue that growth and that progress, because he’s come a long way already from where he was at the beginning of the season. Right now he’s playing good football.”
Part of Weeden’s success has been the emergence of rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon.
The second-round supplemental pick out of Baylor had just one catch for 16 yards against the Ravens in Week 4. Since then, he’s had 10 catches for 286 yards and four touchdowns, including scores of 71, 62 and 33 yards.
“They’ve added that quick-strike capability now,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “They’ve made some big plays, some down-the-field throws. [Weeden’s] a big part of that.”
The Browns have long led with their running game when they play Baltimore, from Jamal Lewis to James Harrison, Peyton Hills and now Richardson. Now the Ravens have to be concerned with both facets of the game – run and pass.
“What makes it difficult is that they can run the ball well,” Williams said. “When they’re out there running the ball and getting 100 yards a game, that opens up the passing lanes for him and [Weeden’s] able to go out and perform at a high level.”