Yogi Berra used to say ‘It’s looking like déjà vu all over again’ and the same could be said about the Browns and their quarterback situation.
Even though the Browns have not yet begun to make moves that will reveal what the team is going to do at quarterback in 2013, it is beginning to look as though Brandon Weeden is more than likely going to be the team’s starting quarterback when the team takes the field this fall.
Obviously, a lot can change in the next six months, but this past weekend, Browns CEO Joe Banner had the strongest comments regarding the team’s support of Weeden.
Perhaps the front office has decided that there is no clear-cut better option than Weeden as they look at players that might be available in free agency, through trades or even the upcoming NFL Draft.
Or it could be after examining the tape that Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner said they feel they can ‘coach him up’ into a more productive quarterback in their system.
Banner said it was unlikely the Browns would use their first pick (6th overall) on a quarterback. Without a current second-round pick, it is unlikely if the Browns draft a quarterback he would be more of a developmental guy than an immediate starter.
That leaves free agency or trades as they only way to add to their existing quarterback situation. Alex Smith was an option for a trade, but there are reports the 49ers have already worked out a deal to trade Smith and the team involved is not the Browns. The Patriots’ Ryan Mallett is a name mentioned and is more likely to be expendable if Matt Cassel is released by the Chiefs and he re-joins the Patriots as Tom Brady’s backup.
The most talked about free agent possibilities--assuming Joe Flacco is not available—are Matt Moore, Chase Daniel or Derek Anderson.
So looking at the big picture, the front office might see any of the above as competition for Weeden, but more likely as a backup replacing Colt McCoy.
Here’s where the Browns could avoid repeating the same mistake they made last year.
A year ago, the Browns tried to obtain the rights to draft Robert Griffin III. After that failed, they also tried to obtain Sam Bradford, which they were also unsuccessful. Since they showed their hand that they had for all practical purposes given up on McCoy as the team’s starting quarterback. It appeared the Browns were desperate to obtain another quarterback and forced the pick to take Weeden with their second pick in the first round (22nd overall), even though many felt he would’ve still been available in the second-round (37th overall).
That set off a domino effect at quarterback because they used a first-round draft choice on Weeden, he needed to play immediately. Weeden was also going to turn 29 during the season and this added urgency to the situation.
I said at the time last year that I felt the best course of action would’ve been to allow McCoy to start the season as the starter and see what they had in him after adding some weapons to the offense. Even if they had drafted Weeden in the second-round, they could’ve begun the season with McCoy and then replaced him with Weeden at some point during the season. To avoid a quarterback controversy, Pat Shurmur and Tom Heckert named Weeden as the starter without competition. That was a mistake.
McCoy started one full season but did not have a running back (Trent Richardson), number one wide receiver (Josh Gordon) and a right tackle (Mitchell Schwartz). McCoy did not have an off-season with OTAs and minicamps because of the NFL lockout. It would’ve made more sense to surround McCoy with weapons and a full off-season in the system and see what he could do. When he stumbled or failed, then bringing in Weeden would’ve been a smoother transition.
However, that’s a moot point now.
I feel the Browns would be making another mistake by making a move at quarterback just to make a move without there being an obvious upgrade. Weeden was clearly in a system in 2012 that wasn’t the best for his skills. He now has a coach in Chudzinski and an offensive coordinator in Turner who most likely will run an offense tailored to Weeden’s strengths.
The Browns would be best suited to add weapons to the offense and structure an offense for Weeden and if he fails, there will be no question where the fault lies and the Browns can continue their search for that elusive franchise quarterback.