Browns Could Give The Thumb To Injured Weeden
By Steven King
Cleveland Browns QB Brandon Weeden says his sprained right thumb is “pretty sore.”
As such, then, the way that certain club executives look at it, this might be the perfect time to give Weeden the thumb – at least temporarily – and start Cleveland St. Ignatius High School product Brian Hoyer in Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings in the Metrodome.
Jason Campbell, who has started 71 games in his nine-year career, is listed as No. 2 on the depth chart and, in a perfect world, would get the start if Weeden can’t go. But he is what he is, so to speak, and that is someone who may not lose the Browns the game but also won’t win it for them, either. Instead, he will simply manage the game, making sure the team lines up property and runs the play that’s called.
In this day and age in the NFL, when points are scored at a dizzying rate, that isn’t enough. A team has to have a real playmaker at quarterback. As we’ve said before, Campbell isn’t the team’s long-term answer at quarterback by any stretch of the imagination.
Hoyer likely isn’t the man, either, but in just his fifth season and with only one start and five games overall under his belt, he theoretically has a chance to get better. He won’t turn 28 until Oct. 13, the day before Weeden turns 30.
But the biggest thing in Hoyer’s favor is that General Manager Mike Lombardi likes him – a lot. He signed Hoyer on May 17, just four days after the Arizona Cardinals waived him.
Lombardi, along with CEO Joe Banner, do not like Weeden, and had to be talked into going forward with him to start the season by head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
Lombardi and Banner want to see what Hoyer can do in a game that counts, and starting him at Minnesota would allow them that opportunity without having to go through the messy process of benching Weeden. And with the Browns at 0-2 and doing absolutely nothing offensively, having scored just one touchdown and 16 points overall this year, the team is in a no-lose situation. After all, how much worse can it get if they take a look at Hoyer?
But it will not be easy for Hoyer – or whomever else ends up starting Sunday – because the Vikings will be in a foul mood and a desperate situation. In the playoffs a year ago, they are also 0-2 and in last place in the NFC North. They can’t afford another loss this ear ly in the season.
Plus the game, as mentioned, will be played inside, which means crowd noise could well be a big problem. Can Hoyer, with such limited experience, handle that? Keep in mind that in last Sunday’s 14-6 loss at Baltimore, the Browns had all kinds of trouble getting their offensive plays in on time, getting called for three delay-of-game penalties and avoiding two other ones only after using timeouts.
One thing that will help Cleveland’s quarterback is that wide receiver Josh Gordon, the team’s only legitimate deep threat, will return after being suspended by the NFL for the first games for using a banned substance. Without him, the Browns couldn’t stretch the field and push the safeties back. They crept down into the box, clogging the intermediate passing lanes and swarming RB Trent Richardson every time he touched the ball.
However, is Hoyer’s arm strong enough to take advantage of Gordon’s down-the-field ability?
Lombardi and Banner would love to find out, and probably will get that chance.
And in a season where finding a quarterback is almost as important as winning games, it makes good sense to do so.