Nov 24, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Jason Campbell (17) lays on the ground after a hit during the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Browns fumble against Steelers, fans look toward 2014 NFL Draft


Nov 24, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron (84) looks over Cleveland Browns quarterback Jason Campbell (17) who lays on the ground after being injured during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Steelers beat the Browns 27-11. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Just two weeks ago, the future seemed bright in Cleveland.  Fans shouted cheers of “Playoffs”, “AFC Championship” and even “This Year”. The talk around the water coolers and job sites throughout northeastern Ohio today however, carries a completely different tune. Once again, our focus offers us phrases such as “NFL Draft”, “running back”, “offensive line”, “wide receiver” and of course “quarterback”.

For Cleveland fans, the most troubling facet was not that is was a heartbreaking loss, or even that our playoff chances have dwindled. We can stomach a loss in battle. We can handle getting knocked down. What troubles us is that it was the Steelers and even more so that we did not put up a fight. In a game that was both painful to watch and depressing to relive, the Cleveland offense stumbled and choked, play after play. It was not until late in the game, when it was all but over, that the Browns finally showed signs of life.

The Cleveland offense was, well, offensive at best, offering three fumbles, an interception and another handful of dropped passes. Quarterback Jason Campbell again abandoned the vertical game, amassing only 124 yards in nearly three quarters of play, until being knocked out of the game with a concussion. The offensive line struggled to contain the pass rush, giving up five sacks. The return of Brandon Weeden was quickly followed by an interception return for a touchdown, although he eventually settled down and sparked some offensive production.

The Browns certainly did not get any help from the officials, who neglected to call a variety of penalties. Let me rephrase, they neglected to penalize the Steelers for a variety of penalties. They showed no restraint when calling them against the Browns. In a league where the focus is on safety and quarterback protection, how is it that Jason Campbell can be knocked out of the game with a concussion, a direct result of a shot to the face, without a penalty being called?

I could continue my rant about the officiating, but in all reality, it did not matter. The Browns were, in a word, bad. If we could combine the upsides of both Weeden and Campbell, our offense could be impressive. However, the dink and dunk attack Campbell offered will not win us many games, nor will the interceptions, inaccuracy and bad decisions of Weeden. We must find a quarterback who can throw the ball down the field and complete a screen pass. Instead, our current options force us to choose from one, or the other. I personally, would rather see the vertical game that brought excitement back to Cleveland, even if that means having Weeden at the helm. Yes, I said it. Brandon Weeden gives us the best chance to win. Not because he is a good quarterback, I could argue otherwise, but he offers the best chance for our playmakers to make plays. Josh Gordon had a record setting performance, most of which came once Weeden took the field.

On a day when things just seemed upside down, even the Dawg Pound banner, the Cleveland Browns highlighted their downfalls with pristine accuracy. We must get help on the offensive line. We must get a quarterback who offers both a deep game and consistent short passing. We must also get the order of those acquisitions correct, even the best quarterback would struggle behind the line we have in place. We must also find a quality running back and deepen several other key positions. I remain optimistic for next year and can see these issues being resolved in short order, but that does little to ease the pain of this one.

We will attempt to boost our pride next week when we host the Jaguars and we will have a shot at redemption when we travel to Pittsburgh for the final game of the season. We eagerly anticipate the return of Brian Hoyer, who at the very least should provide adequate play while we groom whichever franchise quarterback we select in next year’s draft. We may find ourselves talking “playoffs” again soon, but the best thing about this game, is that it is over.

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Brandon Weeden Cleveland Browns Featured Jason Campbell Popular

  • Mongoose

    The Browns have a new owner, new coaches, updated facilities, and new field name; but the only thing that matters is the play on the field, and that has not changed at all! The Browns have their priorities mixed up!

    • Backwoods

      Hello, Mongoose. Thank you for your comment. I absolutely agree
      that it is all about the play on the field. I do however, put some credit into
      the other changes. Perhaps I will write another article on those changes, and how I feel they could have a positive effect, but yes, without decent play on the field it is all irrelevant. I urge you to read my articles “No More Next Years” & “Road to Recovery” for a unique perspective on the coaching and steps they have taken and must continue to take.

      As for the play on the field, we surely are far from where we
      need to be, but our defense has improved substantially. During this past
      off-season, the bulk of the changes were on the defensive side. If the focus this coming spring is on the offense, we should be in tremendously better shape given the collection of picks that we have in the draft. I feel there are great things in the near future. You have definitely hit the nail on the head and they must put the proof on the field. My goal is to add a touch of hope and optimism to your swing. I thank you for sharing your thoughts and I hope that this time next year, our topic will be how bad the Steelers have been instead.

  • Greg

    The Browns are in desperate need of a top quarterback.
    I hope they don’t screw up their draft again and take another quarterback like Weeden.
    Rumors float around about Manziel. With 13 INT in 11 games, is he a improvement over what we already have? We don’t need another quarterback who throws the ball away as much as he does.
    I don’t think he is the answer.

    • Backwoods

      Hello Greg. That is a very good question. First off, I like Manziel’s playmaking ability, whether that will translate well in the NFL, I do not know, but the kid can make things happen. I don’t think Banner and the front office will take a gamble and there are several concerns with him, mainly his character. I recall the clip of him walking right passed his coach instead of taking his scolding like a man. That is not an attitude I want to see here. I think if they take a chance on him it will be due to taking another QB with an earlier pick. That I would agree with, as long as they address all the other issues later on. We might just have enough picks and cap room to afford that luxury. Is he better than Weeden and Campbell? I think he could be if he can grow up a bit and make the transition to the NFL. I think Hoyer will likely be our starter to begin next year. We need to get a better look at him and see what happens from there.

      • Greg

        After watching some of his games, I just don’t think he is a improvement.
        Of course it’s hard to say how he will play in the NFL.
        But, the browns need to do their homework on their next quarterback.
        It can’t be “wait till next year” every year they falter.

        • Backwoods

          That is exactly it, how will he do? I feel that our front office is under immense pressure that is not entirely deserved, We have had some bad decisions and have faltered many times before, but the decisions this regime has made have proven wise. I wish we could have seen more of Hoyer and Dion Lewis, as they may have shown a brighter light on their decision making abilities. Keep in mind that this regime is responsible for the T-Rich trade which is looking more and more brilliant, and also the additions of Kruger, D. Bryant, Groves, and Mingo among others. I personally like Derek Carr. If they take a chance on Manziel, I hope they find a more stable QB prospect as insurance.

    • John Duquette

      Absolutely agree, please Browns brain trust do not draft Manziel he has to potential to be another JaMarcus Russell.

  • Letterman007

    The Brown”s should draft TWO QBs in the draft ! Yes, pull a Redskins and draft one early with the first pick and perhaps another in round 3 with the extra pick they acquired . Develop the third rounder unless he turns out to be another Russell Wilson, it would give us two chances to get it right and heaven help us if we don’t !!

    • Backwoods

      Amen! Even if we find our gem in the first round, depth is always a concern at QB. I like Hoyer and I hope that he will be around for a while either as a starter or solid number two, most likely the latter. Even then, we have progressed through all three of our QB’s and could easily be a play away from a wildcat disaster. Hey, it has happened before. The draft is loaded with sold prospects and we could likely get a Russell Wilson type in round three. Don’t forget, we have an extra in round four as well.

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  • Kopernicus

    The posts here are exactly the same as they were every year since 2000….

    I don’t know of anyone who knows football that ever would have thought that the team with Hoyer and Richardson was going to the AFC Championship game or that this was “the year”. Please. Beat the Broncos? KC? Patriots? Those are teams that will make it.

    • Letterman007

      You take little steps at first, to make the playoffs this year would have been more than anyone expected!! But a step in the right direction!! The D showed that it’s good enough to get there, the playoffs. The O is very short of that goal and needs help in a lot of places. If this is done right, in two years we will be beating the Pats, Broncos and Niners.

      • Backwoods

        I would agree that talk of the AFC Championship, or even playoffs,is a bit premature. We have been at the bottom for so long that a glimmer of hope can swell within our eagerness to thrive. We are overdue, and we know it. The hope is real however, I would say that two years is a solid assessment. I think that next year will show the signs of offensive improvement and a shot at a playoff run. The following year will be the finishing touches and refinement of the roster. We should be in very good shape, very soon. I again bring up my “Road to Recovery” article. If you have not, check it out. It is an outlook that I myself have grown all too familiar with, but it fits.

        • Letterman007

          Our problem is we may be too high in the draft order to get a franchise QB. We should , and I hate these words, Tank the rest of the season and hope to move up in the draft order. I have my doubts that the Browns can find a franchise QB in the third or fourth round. They win a couple more games and move up the order, then its what? Wait till the next draft to get the QB and we are another year behind and now the D is getting old and up for new contracts? Who knows where Horton is as he is likely to be a head coach!? It MUST happen this year or its wait another few years!

          • Backwoods

            A better position would be great, but I just can’t bring myself to hope they tank it. I still want to see heart, even if its not beneficial for positioning. They do have that additional first-round pick that can be utilized to trade up. I am not sure that they would wait until the third or fourth for a franchise guy, and they may not be looking for a second QB with the recent addition of Alex Tanney. You do bring up very good points regarding the defense and Horton, and there is little to argue that. The time has come to make our push and we best be getting to it. Thank you.

        • Letterman007

          Here is the problem, everyone thinks there is a plethora of franchise QBs I the draft. I say there isn’t that many. With all the teams that need quarterbacks, there really isn’t that many to go around. People say well the Browns have two first rounders they can trade up? With who, if our first pick is say tenth and we want to trade up, if you were sitting at second or third and needed a QB, would you trade for a tenth and say twenty first pick. Even if you don’t need a QB, would you give up a Clowney or someone of that stature? NO you’d be stupid !! At tenth who is on the board, the kid from Northern Illinois? Not my idea of a franchise QB. Yes he can run as he proved last night. He can throw some, but not well enough. He looks at one receiver and if covered he runs. Got to the Orange Bowl last year and got run over!, BLOWN away, not even close.

          • Backwoods

            Although it is certainly true that there is not enough to go around, there should be several options remaining at our position. My hopes would be that someone will be looking to take a chance on Maziel, Boyd or Mariota (whoever is remaining), and make it worthwhile for them to drop a couple spots. Aside from that, I am not sure that we would necessarily have to “tank” the season to remain high in the draft. We have a good chance at a win this Sunday, but the remaining games should all prove quite a challenge as we face the Patriots, Jets, Bears and the Steelers. I would not be surprised to see them finish the season with only one more win, if any. Draft day is still far off and much can change, but if several quarterbacks come out early, and thats a big if, we could be looking at Bridgewater, Boyd, Hundley, Carr, Mariota, and Manziel, scattered throughout the first and second rounds. For there to be no options left at say, the tenth pick (although we are currently in the seven slot), teams would have to pass on several of the high ranking players at all the other positions. Itmay not be who we want, but it may be who someone else does. I would be extremely surprised to see all six go in the top seven or eight picks. I understand your frustration and will not dispute the possibility, but I think we will have some options and much will change by then. Thanx.

          • Letterman007

            I don’t consider Boyd or Manziel a pick we should take! Neither is better than what we already have and I would consider it a wasted pick, nothing new for the Browns !! Boyd is Weeden with a little more movement capability. Manziel is RGIII, except more fragile and shorter. Takeaway Bridgewater, Mariota, and Carr who all might get drafted before our slot and who would you pick? Boyd is no more than a third rounder and Manziel ,with his off field antics and being fragile, third or forth round.

          • Backwoods

            I agree with your assessment of both Boyd and Manziel, however Manziel might just make the adjustment and prove us all wrong. Either way, I am not eager to take that chance unless it is the third or fourth round. I honestly would much rather have Carr than any of the others. If he is not available, then perhaps we should change direction altogether and upgrade the O-Line instead (Matthews would be nice). I know how desperately we need a QB, but if the chips fall that way, then so be it. We must upgrade on the O-Line or it won’t much matter who we bring in. We have Hoyer and Trick-Shot Tanney, both of which may be able to take the starting role and even Weeden would perform much better behind a solid line. That said, I see Hoyer as a long-term backup who can provide insurance and solid play if needed and I have only seen limited pre-season play by Tanney, not enough to overwhelm my confidence, although he did look good. I do have faith in our front office and feel that they may indeed be looking at several other options. Norv Turner is known for his ability to work with quarterbacks and as sad as it would be not to land our “franchise guy”, i would much rather see another Joe Thomas, than another Brandon Weeden.

          • Letterman007

            Don’t forget, we may loose Alex Mack to free agency. Let alone T J Ward and May have to replace them. I really don’t think we can get all we need through the draft. They, the FO, will have to bow their collective necks and get some really good FAs or we will be waiting longer than any of us want!! One side of the ball gets good the other goes down hill. They blew it this year, not getting any offensive help, as it would have been the year with everyone else in the division on a down turn !!

          • Backwoods

            Alex Mack and TJ Ward would both be difficult to replace and hopefully they can keep them onboard. I do expect some acquisitions through free agency and this regime has shown a solid track record there. I think they knew from the beginning that there was much more work to be done than they could accomplish in one year. Why else would they have made the trades during last year’s draft? They likely noticed a greater talent pool next year and the upgrades from the fourth & fifth rounds to the third and fourth will prove wise as well. I think they also had much higher hopes for T-Rich (although I am not sure that they didn’t plan to trade him all along) and the injuries to Hoyer, Dion Lewis, Travis Benjamin and both guards (Pinkston & Lauvao) were unexpected. I certainly understand your position and I do hope that this regime will build greater confidence in the fans as a whole. After the year, after year, after year, after year, after year disasters (yes, I left out quite a few ‘after year’s) we have seen, it is truly difficult to put much faith in any regime until they prove themselves, which will take some time. I truly hope they can prove worthy, I for one, do not want to wait another decade or three.

  • Backwoods

    Here is a link to my article “The Road to Recovery”, mentioned in my comments below http://dawgpounddaily.com/2013/11/13/road-to-recovery/. I hope y’all enjoy this perspective and as always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.