Taking a look at what happened, or didn't, with Brandon Weeden as the Browns' starting quarterback.
The easy way to look back at the Browns' quarterback situation is to second-guess and say that they wasted four games with Weeden.
It would also be wrong. The Browns and Rob Chudzinski knew the team had committed a first-round draft pick to Weeden, they knew they didn’t have many better and clear available options out there before training camp, and they knew they had to find out what they had. Weeden gave them no reason not to believe in him in preseason.
Too, the Browns devoted all their energy to getting Weeden ready. To suddenly switch to Jason Campbell after giving Weeden the bulk of the first-team reps would have been illogical after an offseason of work. Maybe everyone should have paid closer attention what Chudzinski said late in preseason that the competition between Weeden and Campbell was close.
So when Chudzinski says that he, in part, started Weeded because the Browns weren’t sure what they had, he was right. They thought they knew, but teams don’t really know until they see a guy play on the field. The Browns needed to know if this guy was worth a first-round pick.
As Chudzinski said: “I think the biggest thing in looking at it was Brandon was somebody that we didn’t know a lot about, and we wanted to find out more about. He showed well and did well in the practices and in the preseason. The production hasn’t been there during the regular season that we would like. But again, his role is different now.”
Then came the words that would seem to indicate where Weeden stands with the Browns: “He’s one play away from playing, and he’s still a developing player,” Chudzinski said. It’s fine to be a “developing player,” just not at the age of 30.
It’s pretty tough to figure exactly what happened with Weeden. In college he completed 70 percent of his passes. As a rookie in the first half of the season he had some tough moments, but he had others when it seemed like he would develop. Overall it seemed if the team just stuck with him, he’d be fine -- especially in a downfield offense. But he started regressing. This kind of smacks of opposing teams doing more scouting and finding his weakness and him not adjusting. The regime change didn't help, but the present coaches tried to get him ready. It didn't work.
The knock on Weeden coming out of Oklahoma State was that he had the big arm, but that he tended to focus on the rush when pressure arrived. No quarterback can survive playing that way.
Is there reason to believe in Campbell? He’s bounced around the league a lot -- to the point that this is his fourth team in eight seasons. That doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence. There aren’t a ton of Jim Plunketts out there. Maybe Campbell can be the guy to go from Oakland to another team and do well.
Campbell can help continue to give the Browns a chance to win by playing smart and well. He did that in Kansas City. The Browns are at the point in their development where they are in “give us a chance” mode. They should be able to play defense well enough to be in games -- witness Ray Horton’s promise that the real defense would appear in these weeks and the way the Browns played in the second half -- and if they get something from the quarterback they can have the proverbial “chance” to win. That happened against Kansas City, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t happen against Baltimore.