Is Cleveland Finally Learning How To Swim With The Sharks?
By Steven King
When free agency began a little over two weeks ago, the Cleveland Browns made a big splash immediately by signing three players in linebackers Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves and defensive lineman Desmond Bryant that should have a big impact in 2013.
Since then, their efforts in free agency have caused hardly a ripple – at least ripples that will have any significance. In CB Chris Owens and CB/S Kevin Barnes, along with TE Kellen Davis, they have signed players who will add depth and experience but will not become cornerstones of the team by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, none of them are expected to start.
The Browns’ recent signing of QB Jason Campbell, however, has caused a big ripple, just not one of significance since he will almost certainly not have a major impact on this team in 2013.
And if he’s put into position to do such, then the Browns will be in big, big trouble.
Campbell, 31, is an NFL journeyman. He’s not going to win you the game, but he’s unlikely to lose it for you, either.
What does that mean? That he will manage the game, getting everybody lined up properly, running the plays that are called and not making silly mistakes.
Call Campbell the Browns’ steady hand at the most important position in team sports.
The Browns are intimating that Campbell will have a chance to compete for the starting job, but that’s not really the case. He has brought in to push presumed starter Brandon Weeden. The other “name” quarterback that was on the roster, Colt McCoy, was looked upon by the Browns as not having the capability to make Weeden sweat in training camp and the preseason. That’s why he was dealt to the San Francisco 49ers on April 1.
But make no mistake about it, barring something unforeseen – such as the drafting of a quarterback with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft – the Browns’ season will ebb and flow with the play of Weeden. The No. 22 overall draft choice last year, Weeden is – by far – the Browns’ best option at quarterback.
While Browns CEO Joe Banner and GM Mike Lombardi don’t think too highly of Weeden, new coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Norv Turner – both of whom are considered quarterback gurus – believe the Oklahoma State product is salvageable. More importantly, they are confident enough in their own coaching ability to be convinced that they can wield the requisite ability from him.
Most people close to the team agree that if it is indeed within Weeden to be the Browns’ quarterback going forward, then Chudzinski and Turner can get that out of him.
Weeden’s big arm is well-suited for the vertical passing game that is the focal point of Turner’s offensive scheme. Bluntly, if Weeden is ever going to make it in this league – at least with the Browns – then this season is when he will do it.
And if it doesn’t happen, then the Browns will have to put their franchise quarterback search on rewind (again) and try to find him in 2014.