Browns Must Stand By Their Man
By Steven King
Jason Campbell has started two straight games at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.
The way the Browns have gone through quarterbacks throughout the expansion era – but especially thi season – flip-flopping from one man to the next, Campbell’s current longevity is almost historic. It seems like a veritable lifetime.
Someday that revolving-door syndrome will change and the Browns will find their guy. They’ll get someone they expect to be the quarterback for the long run.
Just like Otto Graham was for the first 10 years of the franchise from 1946-55.
Just like Frank Ryan was from 1963 through the first part of 1968.
Just like Brian Sipe from 1978-83.
And just like Bernie Kosar was from 1985 through the first part of 1993.
So when that new man arrives through the NFL Draft (in all likeihood), free agency or the bargain bin at Wal-Mart, the Browns have to remember to treat him just like Kosar, Sipe, Ryan and Graham were treated. In addition, just how the Chicago Bears treated Jay Cutler on Sunday as they defeated the Browns 38-31 at FirstEnergy Stadium.
In short, the Browns must have patience with their franchise quarterback. They have to be willing to ride out the rough times with him and can’t be bailing out at the first sign of trouble.
Graham struggled at times and fans used to scream for his backup, George Ratterman, to replace him.
Ryan struggled and eventually gave way to Bill Nelsen.
Sipe struggled and was temporarily replaced by Paul McDonald.
Though beloved, Kosar heard his boos, too. Those people wanted Mike Pagel.
It’s been that way with every quarterback in every city since the game began and will continue to be that way forever. It’s just the way things are.
And it was that way with Cutler on Sunday.
Bears coach Marc Trestman, who got his start 25 years ago as the offensive coordinator of the Kosar-led Browns, made the tough decision last week to name Cutler the starter. Cutler had missed the previous four games with a high ankle sprain while his backup, Josh McCown, looked like an All-Pro, seizing the opportunity to throw for 13 touchdowns with just one interception.
But Trestman had a plan and it had always called for Cutler, who is the much more-talented player, to regain his job when he returned to health, which he did last week. Many in Chicago didn’t see it that way. They wanted the Bears to stick with the red-hot McCown.
The way he started out Sunday, Cutler looked like some of the quarterbacks the new Browns have trotted out there. He was awful, throwing two first-half interceptions, one of which was returned 44 yards for a touchdown by FS Tashaun Gipson.
If the boo birds had been loud before, they were really loud now.
But Trestman stood his ground. Cutler was his quarterback. He just needed to work off the rust and when he did, he threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes as the Bears rallied for the win.
Patience is a virtue and it proved very virtuous for Trestman, Cutler and the Bears.
The coach and his quarterback are a team within the team. They have to be on the same page, be able to finish each other’s sentences and have each other’s back. It’s like a marriage. It’s not always going to be easy, but the end result is worth the trouble.
Just ask the Bears, who might not have beaten the Browns if Trestman had pushed the panic button and gone to McCown.
And just ask those old Browns teams, whose success was built on a show of patience at the most important position in team sports.