Browns consider quarterback change

Posted Oct 21, 2013

Browns Senior Editor Vic Carucci says coach Rob Chudzinski is putting plenty of thought into making a possible change at quarterback.

Rob Chudzinski is doing the obvious – and what many Browns observers no doubt believe is long overdue – in at least considering a quarterback change.

The coach has no choice because Brandon Weeden left him none.

Let’s make one point clear: Weeden was not the only problem in the Browns’ 31-13 loss at Green Bay Sunday. Too many passes were dropped. Too many blocks and tackles were missed. Too many penalties were committed. Too many big plays were allowed.

But Weeden’s poor play and the fact the Browns don’t look remotely close to the team that once was riding high on a three-game winning streak and don’t seem likely to return to that level any time soon are more than enough reason for Chudzinski to at least look at the possibility of an alternative.

Is it time for Jason Campbell to take over?

Ask any number of fans and others outside the team, and they’ll respond with a resounding, “Yes!”

They’ve seen enough of Weeden’s interceptions, inaccurate throws, lack of pocket awareness when he’s under pressure, and tendency to hold and pat the ball as his blockers give him precious extra seconds. They’ve seen enough of the offense stalling, quarter after quarter. They’ve seen enough of a quarterback whose performance appears to be regressing while posting a 0-4 record as a starter.

To them, going with Campbell is an easy decision for one simple reason: He isn’t Weeden.

Chudzinski has to view the situation through a much wider lens. And that’s why the topic of who should start at quarterback for this Sunday’s game at Kansas City, and beyond, is something that is discussed with offensive coordinator Norv Turner and other members of the coaching staff during their weekly meeting to review personnel.

Chudzinski works with the only guideline that matters: Who gives the Browns the best chance to win?

“That’s been our approach all along,” he said Monday during his weekly appearance on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford.” “We’re going to be consistent with that approach, and we’ll determine the best guys who we feel give us the best chance to win.”

It’s fair to say that, based on what we’ve seen so far this season, there is no evidence to support that sticking with Weeden would meet that standard.

But does a switch to Campbell do so? That’s the great unknown, for Chudzinski and everyone else.

Campbell has experience. He has played well at times for other teams during his nine NFL seasons. He is big and strong. He can throw well.

Campbell can move around at least well enough to buy some time when under pressure. He appears to have what it takes to manage the offense with some degree of efficiency.

But does he represent a true upgrade? Is the fact he was passed over when Chudzinski named his third-string quarterback, Brian Hoyer, the starter after Weeden’s Week 2 thumb injury an indication of doubt on the part of Chudzinski, Turner, et al, that would still prevent the move even if it seems so obvious to so many others? Is the fact Chudzinski didn’t yank Weeden for Campbell during the Green Bay game any sign of trepidation about the backup quarterback’s ability to step in on the spot despite not preparing as a starter?

“I have a lot of confidence in Jason and his readiness,” the coach said.

Still, you don’t arrive at the answer of the biggest question Chudzinski has faced in his first season as a head coach without a great deal of thought. You don’t have the luxury of seeing things through the eyes of outsiders who merely want something done to end their frustration.

You must look at everything, including the rest of your players. Are they still as supportive of Weeden as they appeared to be after his disastrous second half against Detroit?

You must be able to see the big picture, as well as the smaller ones, beginning with the fact that if such a move is made, there is no turning back. Benching a first-round pick from the previous year effectively means his time with this team has come to an end.

And doing so now means that more than half of the season, with the Browns tied for second in their division and owning a victory in the first of their two games against the leader, is being placed in the hands of a quarterback who essentially was acquired to be a backup – who went through the entire offseason, training camp, and preseason as an understudy while someone else was being prepared to lead the team through the real thing.

“He missed some throws,” Chudzinski said of Weeden’s struggles against the Packers. “There were a few decisions that he needs to be better at, just some of the things (such as) moving in the pocket a little bit. So, there are a number of things (to consider while determining of a change should be made).

“He needs to play better, but the guys around him need to play better as well. We had some opportunities, some catches, and we missed on some things protection-wise. And we just missed on some runs that could have been bigger and those are the types of things, against a team like Green Bay, that you have to be hitting on on all cylinders. And we weren’t (Sunday).

“So it’s not just about one guy. It’s about everybody and it’s about being consistent.”

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