Finding the Good in the Bad and Ugly Quarterback Situation


Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Even for the Browns, the 2013 quarterback situation has been one of the strangest and most frustrating in recent memory. Browns fans are fairly well adjusted to the quarterback carousel that’s been spinning since 1999 but it’s never quite worked out like this one. Two weeks where Brandon Weeden has failed about as conclusively as any quarterback has in this expansion era. Third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer instated, who achieves instant success and looks about as poised as any we’ve seen over a two week span. A devastating injury that ends Hoyer’s season and now back to Weeden for more crippling futility for the rest of the once-cursed, once-promising, now doubly-cursed season.

On one side of the coin, the timing of the Hoyer injury is heartbreaking. That’s the here and now, being competitive in the division in 2013. It leaves the franchise in a sort of in-between state with Hoyer. But there’s actually something really good in the timing, down the road. Hoyer has shown enough that the Browns have to see where it goes with him in the future. At the same time, he hasn’t shown enough to where the Browns have to commit everything to him as the franchise guy yet. Meaning the front office can go get their guy in the 2014 draft and actually bring him along in his own time, for once, knowing that Hoyer is a reliable start next season, Week 1 and beyond. The 2013 Browns can’t buy a quality starter right now, but the 2014 Browns might get to the point where they have two good options ready to go at quarterback.

With the Weeden situation, to be honest, there’s not a lot of good here. You have a quarterback playing with no confidence, an organization that revealed they have no confidence in him just a few weeks ago and now, left with no other viable options, they’re here to tell us they have the utmost confidence in Weeden going forward. I think fans are having difficulty scaling back expectations, now that the marvelous two week renaissance is over. Hoyer proved he was the clear-cut starter of the group, regardless of how short his time as the starter was. You can look around the league and for many teams, if your starting quarterback goes down for the season, that season is pretty much shot or greatly compromised. If Colin Kaepernick goes down in San Francisco, the 49ers would be in this same position with Colt McCoy. Let that sink in for a second. Yeah, it’s bad luck, it’s a raw deal for a franchise that has waited patiently to be in this position early on, 3-2, 3-3 and fading. But if you take only one thing from me, it should be this; Weeden is a big old #2. Nothing more. Yes, there could have been a better way to phrase that. He’s a backup quarterback at best in the NFL. Take the ‘he was supposed to be the starter’ ax to grind mentality out of the equation. He didn’t cut it the first time, he was replaced, now he’s a backup forced to play out the rest of the season.

The daily rumors of the Browns somehow fabricating a starting quarterback out of thin air have got to stop. As much as I hate to admit it, the reality is there’s no one sitting at home in a recliner who’s going to give the Browns a better shot at winning this Sunday than Weeden. There just isn’t anything out there. You can’t fault the front office for that. I could make the case for a handful of backup quarterbacks around the league that would be an improvement or at least a better game manager, but it seems highly unlikely this front office will trade an asset like a 2014 draft pick for a rental quarterback. And I don’t think that stance will change with Weeden’s play. They already know how limited he is.

That about wraps up all the other options at quarterback. Oh no, you don’t think Jason Campbell could be the starter, do you? Tell me you don’t think Campbell should be starting! Jason Campbell is in a relationship with the Browns front office and it’s complicated. I get that the new regime was stuck with Weeden, but they were the ones who brought Campbell in and they don’t seem to have any confidence in him in the least. It could simply be that he’s the all-time designated backup. Whatever’s going on behind the scenes, it definitely doesn’t end with Jason Campbell being chosen as the starter.

In a short, or painfully long, span of six weeks, the Browns have seen some of the best and some of the worst quarterback play in recent memory. Chances are, the latter will kick around for the remainder of the season. I know it’s frustrating that the Browns looked a lot closer to bringing it all together this year than usual, especially defensively, and the season now looks like it will play out the same way as it always does. The difference is that this feels like an actual building block on the way to something bigger this time and that’s something the players who are out there for the rest of the season can take pride in. We’ll see now if this defense can take it upon themselves to continue building the rest of the way and play with that pride in their game, on their side of the ball, regardless of who’s in at quarterback.