Why Did The Cleveland Browns Give Brandon Weeden a Second Chance Over Jason Campbell?

Updated: October 29, 2013

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself “when will the Cleveland Browns quarterback carousel ever stop spinning?” If you have, you are not alone. After opening the season as the 18th starting quarterback in the Browns expansion era, some thought that Brandon Weeden could finally be the answer to the question. Two disappointing losses and an injury later, Brian Hoyer became the 19th starter in Browns history, knocking off the Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals in consecutive weeks. The solid play of Hoyer left fans elated that the team finally had their answer.

Fast forward to Week 5 against the Buffalo Bills.

Hoyer tears his ACL on a scramble to the sideline, and Weeden re-enters the fray to a chorus of boo’s from the crowd. The story plays out from there, Weeden plays a mediocre game and the Browns win on the strength of defense and special teams. Then, two downright embarrassing losses to the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers happened, and the hook finally came out on Weeden. Jason Campbell was then named the 20th starting quarterback, given the task to lead the team into Arrowhead to face the Kansas City Chiefs. Despite losing, he reminded people why fans were excited about Browns football in the first place.

While Campbell didn’t get the win, the offense looked productive, and by all accounts, it was an exciting game. Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron showed why they are regarded as the Browns lone two playmakers, the defense stepped up in a return to form type of game, but it still was not enough to knock off the now 8-0 Chiefs. The big story though was Campbell going 22-of-36, for 293 yards and two touchdowns, and being the second passer to perform well in the offense. Neither of those players happened to be Weeden.

So now it has prompted many to ask the question on radio shows across the state. If the Browns knew that Weeden wasn’t the best passer on the roster, why did they go back to him after the injury to Hoyer?

Determining Potential From Reality

Quite simply it was to figure out the unknown. Weeden was chosen in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, meaning somewhere along the line, enough people felt that he had enough talent to warrant the decision. After two poor showings, fans feel the front office should have seen the writing on the wall, but it truly is unprecedented for a passer selected where he was taken to already be given up on. Even epic busts like JaMarcus Russell and Tim Couch saw more time on the field than Weeden, which could be why the front office has acted methodically in determining what they have on their roster at the position.

Line Stability

For as much grief as the current line of Joe Thomas, John Greco, Alex Mack, Shaun Lauvao and Mitchell Schwartz have taken, they have performed fairly well in pass blocking. When Weeden started the season, the line was decimated with injuries to players like Lauvao, Jason Pinkston, Ryan Miller and Chris Faulk. After attempting to make a deal with Seattle for guard John Moffitt, that deal was curiously axed as well. So with a rotating door at the guard position, Weeden took more than his fair share of abuse, primarily coming courtesy of Oniel Cousins. With the line back at full strength, the coaches obviously were interested in what he could do while staying upright.

Running Back Turmoil

The last time Weeden had snaps under center, the Browns running back situation was resting solely on Trent Richardson. With the former Alabama second-year back missing key blocks, struggling in blitz pickups and averaging paltry totals on the ground, Weeden was forced to throw much more often than he should have been. Since then, the Browns jettisoned Richardson to Indianapolis for their 2014 first-round pick, and signed veteran back Willis McGahee to shoulder the load. With Chris Ogbonnaya now picking up blitzes and clearing lanes for McGahee, the Browns coaching staff wanted another look at the beleaguered 30-year old quarterback.

The results were the same, but now they know for sure.

The Return of Playmakers

Finally, the biggest reason Weeden likely returned to the lineup. With Gordon suspended the first two games of the season, the Browns were unable to open up the playbook down-field like they had hoped. Whether you like Weeden or not, nobody can deny that rocket arm of his that made him so appealing as a prospect. The idea of launching bombs to Gordon down the field proved to be too tempting for Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner, and they gave Weeden presumably his final chance. Again, the results proved to be less than desirable, but you don’t know unless you let it play out. The front office now knows exactly what they have in Weeden, and now they can move forward with the season, with a 2014 offseason and a draft just on the horizon.

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  1. BrownsCavs Indians

    October 29, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Wow, good analysis. Kinda like how my wife keeps giving me second chances after I say stupid things…she must remember she married me for some reason and needs to see if ti ws real.

    • Bob Evans

      October 29, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      Haha now that is funny….glad you enjoyed Sam’s article though!

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