Brandon Weeden: A Psychological Profile


May 16, 2013; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden (3) talks on a cell phone after organized team activities at the Cleveland Browns Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

If you haven’t read our previous post on Brandon Weeden and his disaster relief work in Oklahoma; its worth your time. Click here.

One of the ways that my writing provides a unique perspective to the sports writing world, and specifically to the Cleveland sports scene is my 12 years experience in the counseling field. As a licensed mental health professional I process information with this training and experience in the background, but sometimes such as this recent Josh Gordon article, my professional lives intersect. It is this intersection that leads to this psychological profile of current starting Quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, Brandon Weeden.


Weeden was drafted in the 2nd Round of the 2002 Major League Baseball draft. He bounced around to a number of teams through trades and the Rule 5 draft. Weeden’s last season in MLB was 2006. The following year, 2007, as a 24 year old freshman, he enrolled at Oklahoma State and redshirted his freshman year. At the age that many NFL players are in their second year in the league Weeden was not even on the field for his college team. Weeden won the starting job 3 years later in 2010 and went on to star in his senior season in 2011. Weeden finished off his college career in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl with a win over the Stanford Cardinal, throwing for 399 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was selected in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns and was named the starting quarterback at the age of 28 and turned 29 in the middle of October of his rookie season. Weeden had a up and down season that included injuries and turnovers, as well as over 3,000 yards passing. Since the end of his rookie year the coaching staff and front office was replaced. A coaching staff that emphasizes a more down the field passing attack was brought in, and it seems this offense better fits Weeden’s skills.


Many of you were well aware of many of these statistics, its in this analysis that I will address and analyze Brandon Weeden’s possible psychological concerns. First some basic information about people in general and how these generalities can tell us something about Weeden:

1)  Most traditional college students begin their 1st year of college at the age of 18 or 19

2)  Most traditional students who complete their undergraduate degree between 4 and 6 years, for our sake lets say 5 years. That makes the traditional undergraduate degree earner between 23 and 24.

3)  Many college graduates tend towards first jobs in their career field and majority no later then their 2nd job. Starting their career by the age of 25 or so.

4)  Men, more so then women, find their value from their job and find their status from the same. Long term their marriage/relationship status is added as a second primary value and status needs.

5)  Dissatisfaction  and concerns with employment, which includes socialization, is a primary factor in many psycho-social mental health concerns.

For the sake of this writing the research base for the above is not as important as the information and implications of such. Weeden began his college career 5 or 6 years later then most 1st year students which means he graduated and started his career field 3 or 4 years later then most. Its important to note that this was his second career path, and after spending years pursuing his first and failing Weeden’s need for professional success is greater then most. As noted in #4 and 5 above its vital for a person’s mental health that they experience success and some level of stability in their career.

The impact of this may help us understand Weeden. Because Weeden was unable to be successful in his first career in MLB the pressure to succeed in the NFL is that much greater. Each snap, each throw is even more important then for a younger starting quarterback.Whether consciously or subconsciously he has the understanding that his opportunity and time is limited. When pressures are added to already important decision making, mental faculties are often effected including focus, risk and memory. While watching Weeden’s games last year I saw behaviors that showed signs of these concerns. He would often look to force big plays and take risks for a few plays or series. Sometimes this would prove successful but often would lead to problems for Weeden. As the game progressed, whether he was successful or not earlier in the game, he would become more tentative. While some of this was related to play calling, even when receivers were running routes down-field Weeden would look primarily at his check down or safe pass catchers. Following successful starts he seemed to be trying to hold on to the lead instead of pressing for more, when struggling early he seemed to be worried about continuing his failures.

While many of these characteristics may be true of rookie QBs, its safe to say that based on Weeden’s previous career failure and his age that the impact on his psyche may be greater. As any of us Weeden has a need to be professionally successful and has shown a desire to do so. Its important to note that his is not an attack on his mental make up, his performance or him as a person; nor is it a prediction of his ability to perform moving forward. If Weeden was a typical rookie QB he probably would be being praised for his statistics and ability to play so early, especially in an offense not most fitting to his skills. If I was working with Weeden I would focus on helping him understand both his conscious and subconscious processing and how to use this to increase his success rate. Its important for Weeden to see each play, each pass attempt with the appropriate value. I would focus on the positives of his rookie campaign, which were many, as well as his chance for increased success in the new system.