BEREA - The idea of implementing a learning curve for rookie NFL quarterbacks went out the door about the same time spread offenses arrived as the next big thing.
Now, quarterbacks walk off college campuses armed with knowledge of the spread and with about 12,000 passing yards worth of experience. They're NFL ready before they spend the first cent of their multi-million contracts.
When the great quarterback class of 1983 arrived on the scene, only Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins had a good rookie season, leading the way to a Super Bowl appearance. The rest, including Hall of Famer John Elway, struggled through growing pains.
"They know more about how to play the position at this level," Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. "They're being trained under center, in the shotgun, spread offenses, having the flexibility of who to throw the ball to, calling audibles. They're learning a lot of that in some of the primary areas - high school and college - and that allows them to come here and do more as a quarterback."
Two of those rookies will meet Sunday in Indianapolis in a rematch of last season's Fiesta Bowl - Andrew Luck of the Colts and the Browns' Brandon Weeden. Both have played at least as well and in some cases better than anyone should have expected of a first-year player.
The statistics for the two are strikingly similar. Luck has completed 53.4 percent of his passes for 1,488 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. Weeden has connected on 55.8 percent of his throws for 1,519 yards, seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
A difference between the two situations is that Luck faces more pressure as the first overall draft pick. Weeden, selected 22nd overall, can escape some of the criticism after a bad performance. Luck also has the unenviable challenge of following in the footsteps of legendary quarterback Peyton Manning.
"We're both young teams that are still trying to find our way," Weeden said. "He's still trying to figure out this league, just like I am. He has some pretty big shoes to fill. I think he's worried more about that than having to face me. I'm just a peon compared to what he has to deal with."
Weeden led Oklahoma State to a 41-38 win in the Fiesta Bowl. He was 29 of 42 with three touchdown passes and one interception, in addition to scoring on a 2-yard run. Luck was 27 of 31 with two touchdown passes and one interception.
It's possible that Sunday's game could also be high-scoring.
"I don't know," Luck said. "He's a great quarterback. It was not so fun watching him live at the Fiesta Bowl and operate. It would be great if it was a shootout offensively, but a win would be nice."
Weeden was on the winning side in games against the three quarterbacks selected ahead of him in the draft - Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill. That's an accomplishment he hasn't forgotten.
While the media and fans might want to play up a rivalry between the two, Weeden is more worried about keeping the Browns on a winning track after a 34-24 win over the Bengals last week.
"I got that question when we played against each other in the Fiesta Bowl," Weeden said. "I think he would say the same thing. It's more important who can put their team in position to win the game. If he goes out and throws for 300 yards, I don't want to go out there and throw for 301."
Luck is coming off a shaky performance in a 35-9 loss to the New York Jets. He can't wait to face the Browns and put the loss behind him.
"There are guys on this team that can't wait for a rookie to grow up," Luck said. "Any position - a rookie player - we're trying to win, and I think any athlete, any competitor, would do that as well."