Cleveland Browns QB Carousel Could Turn to Alex Tanney or Caleb Hanie Against Patriots

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Updated: December 6, 2013

There’s an unprecedented situation brewing in Foxboro for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, as the team is very likely to name their fourth starting passer of 2013. After Jason Campbell suffered a concussion against Pittsburgh, Brandon Weeden amazingly enough received the same fate against Jacksonville. While neither had excelled in any fashion, losing both starting quarterbacks has set the Browns up for a nearly impossible task in defeating the likes of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

It is worth noting that Campbell was cleared for practice on Thursday, although he has to still be cleared by an independent physician to be able to play on Sunday. It is unlikely that the Browns will be willing to take the risk of giving Campbell all the starting repetitions when they still do not know if he would be able to suit up on Sunday, especially given the seemingly unpredictable return of concussion symptoms. It seems to be a safe assumption to say that Campbell will not be the starting quarterback this weekend.

Even if the Browns had Brian Hoyer starting and healthy, with his multiple years studying the Patriots offense as a backup for Brady, the challenge certainly would look fairly insurmountable given the Patriots domination on the field as of late. For now, the fate of the Browns now comes down to the combination of former Bears backup, Caleb Hanie, and former Cowboys practice squad passer, Alex Tanney.

With Hanie, the Browns have a pretty good idea of what they will be putting on the field. In four starts in 2011 with the Chicago Bears, Hanie completed exactly 50 percent of his passes for 613 yards, three touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also got sacked 19 times and was charged with a fumble. After rounding those stats to the nearest whole number, his projected game outcome would look like 13-for-25, 153 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Not exactly a positive projection of what his performance could be like against the Patriots defense.

The wildcard in this situation comes from Tanney. A highly accurate passer out of Monmouth college, Tanney took the Division III by storm, shattering many previously existing records. His records for career touchdown passes (150) and career passing yards (14,249) continue to be the standing record to this day. To make it from Division III football to an NFL roster is not an overly common accomplishment, only 18 have been drafted since 1990. Some players, regardless of the draft, have still found success in the league; including Fred Jackson, Pierre Garcon, London Fletcher and Cecil Shorts.

For a Division III quarterback to do it, would be nearly unprecedented in the modern age of football. Even still, the appeal of what Tanney brings to the table can not go unnoticed. It’s clear that he can play the game, based on his NFL Preseason performance, and his accuracy is unrivaled. He has sat on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad the past two seasons learning a system very similar to what is already employed in Cleveland. First-hand accounts of practice state that Tanney was “sharper” and “crisper” than Hanie, and possessed better footwork.

The team already knows what they will get from Hanie and Campbell, and it isn’t enough to beat New England. What the team needs is a spark, and the only one on the roster with the potential to give it is Tanney. Could is be a disaster? Absolutely. But if you want to give the team a legitimate hope and chance of victory, the coaching staff has to go with Tanney on Sunday.

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