Cleveland Browns: Years of Quarterback Mediocrity Has Impacted Fan Expectations

Updated: November 26, 2013

Three quarterbacks later, the Cleveland Browns head into Thanksgiving 2013 in the cellar of the AFC North, once again. With a 4-7 record, reality has set in that after two “meaningful” football games against divisional opponents, the season has quickly become nothing more than an evaluation period for 2014. At the top of the list, as always since 1999, the quarterback position looms heavily in the offseason forecast.

Since the Browns returned to the NFL, they have had 20 starting quarterbacks. From Tim Couch to Brandon Weeden, all had high expectations, and all have failed miserably to different extents. The team has gone the draft route and they have gone the free agency route, but nothing has come up with an answer. Perhaps the most promising name? Brian Hoyer.

This season, Hoyer came in with the backing of general manager Michael Lombardi, and took the Browns fanbase by storm. The hometown kid came home and made good, rattling off two consecutive victories over the Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals. The two wins brought the team to a rare .500 record, setting up an optimistic matchup against the Buffalo Bills. By now, everyone knows how the story ended. Hoyer slid to avoid a hit and ended up tearing an ACL, putting him out for the season.

Weeden returned to a chorus of boos, but ended up leading the team to their third victory. It was all downhill from there for Weeden, however, prompting journeyman veteran Jason Campbell to take the helm. After a close loss to the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, Campbell bested the Baltimore Ravens, snapping an 11-game losing skid to their hated rivals. The fans wasted no time crowning Campbell the new king of Cleveland, with beat writer Mary Kay Cabot going as far as to call him an “elite” NFL quarterback.

As ridiculous a description as that seems, it goes to show the fragile, and sometimes downright unrealistic perspective that Cleveland fans have taken on. At 3-2, the talk of playoffs had moved from an afterthought to a near certainty. After so many years of failure, false optimism, betrayed hope and disappointment, it is understandable they would look for things that really might not be there. In this case, Campbell being an elite quarterback, despite years of history to the contrary.

This is the point. Too often, this fanbase is too quick to crown their sports figures as “the chosen one”, before even showing they are worthy of the title. Prior to Campbell’s return to reality these past two games, many fans were ready to go into 2014 with a combination of Hoyer and Campbell, foregoing the NFL Draft, and likely any common sense.

Perhaps it was a good thing that Campbell imploded when he did, now the focus has shifted back to drafting a legitimate franchise quarterback, like the plan should have been all along. The Cleveland Browns are armed with two first round picks, and they have to get it right this time. The team must finally find a solution to the quarterback riddle that has eluded them since 1999, and the draft is the only solution.

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