I happen to be pretty bullish on this year's team and think the season is far from over. I was so bullish, that I can honestly tell you that this was a playoff team with Hoyer at the helm. Can't be proven, just my hunch. While there have been mirages before, sometimes these glimpses are the real deal, and that is how I see Hoyer.
Now the challenge is "How do you make the playoffs with Weeden"? The first thing you have to understand is BW's strengths and weaknesses. On the plus side, and yes there are some, he has a very strong arm (top 5?) and throws the deep ball to Josh pretty well. On certain patterns, he can be dangerous and hit the defense with a perfectly thrown 60 yard strike. Bam - 6 points.
Now come the weaknesses. He often misses his reads on "busy patterns" and basically does not make decisions fast enough. It was so obvious that his reaction times were slower as Hoyer got the ball out in 2.4 seconds vs. BW of 3.2 or higher. This helped BH hit Jordan and Josh right as they came out of their breaks to get some serious YAC. Conversely BW's increased reaction time is causing what I call "Weeden Roulette" or in a less violent scenario "Weeden the Magic 8 Ball". The concept is that more often you spin the chamber, or shake the magic 8 ball - the more likely you are to get a negative result from BW. With a hat tip to Champ 64 for pointing this out, BW has averaged 4 points per game in the 2nd half this year. My theory is that as the pass run balance gets skewed, the pass atts go up, you spin the chamber more, and eventually you lose at Weeden Roulette. Lets look at this more closely.
Before starting our plan, I want to hit you with some interesting stats, albeit over a small sample. Here are BW 2014 atts from lowest to highest with the respective QB rating for the game. 24 (95.3), 33 (83.8), 43 (76.9), 53 (48.4). It should also be noted that the rating associated with his 43 attempt game was really helped by garbage dump offs. (I believe the actual rating before garbage was in the 50s). Now let me share another stat with you, under BH we had a 1 negative play (INT, sack, or intentional grounding) per every 6.5 completions. So you get over 6 positives for every 1 negative. BW - you get just over 3 positives for every 1 negative plays. All small sample sizes - but you get the point. We are going to limit BW's pass attempts until it is absolutely necessary.
So lets game plan for BW's average of 69 plays per game and get to the playoffs:
1. We are going to a junk gadget offense for a full 10 plays minimum per game. That means Marquise Gray (as a side note Fozzy Whitaker was a tremendous Wildcat QB)running read option, jet sweeps from Benjamin etc. We want a full 14% of our game plan aimed at confusing the hell out of the defense, and replacing pass attempts with creativity. Chud, this is part of the reason you got your job - so get er done. You did this for Cam Newton, now simplify the game plan for BW.
2. 59 plays to go and we are going to design 7 of them to be simple roll out reads for BW. He throws them very well, and we can nit pick 5 - 7 yards and BW gets the caveat that if it isn't there you simply throw it into the cheap seats. You are outside the tackle box, no excuse a negative play. Ball out in rhythm.
3. Ok 52 plays to go. and we are going to target max 25 of them as passes. Game situations may make this difficult, but even a 3 and out with a good punt is better than the ratio of having 1 negative play for every 3 positives during pass plays. Of these 25 pass plays, a full 10-12 are for the downs. Gordon on the long post 4 or 5 times (BW best pattern IMHO), 3-4 streaks down the sidelines to Benji/Little/Gordon and 2-3 seam routes to Jordan.
The shorter stuff (prox 12-15 plays) go as follows. Bess/Cameron across the middle (5-10), but Little and Gordon clear out the zones for him by going deep. Less noise in the middle of the field. Now go to the backs on safe patterns as needed.
I am suggesting this is almost a hard cap for as long as possible. Here is why. Interesting tidbit - BW has been a part of 6 wins and only 1 he had over 30 atts (oak). And another way BW is 1-11 when throwing more than 30 attempts. The only way I let him throw over 30 is with the designed roll outs. Deal with it.
4. Ok now we have our 22 runs from normal formation. More OB, a little less Willis. But really, with our without TR our running game has sucked. Just recognize it and use it as a negative play eliminator.