What to do about quarterback?

Posted Oct 20, 2013

Senior Editor Vic Carucci offers his thoughts on the Browns’ 31-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers Sunday at Lambeau Field.

GREEN BAY, Wisc. – Here are my final thoughts from the Browns’ 31-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field Sunday:

>>The Browns have a problem at quarterback. Brandon Weeden’s game has seemingly hit a wall – after offering few encouraging signs beyond the second quarter of last week’s loss against Detroit – and there doesn’t seem to be any cause for hope that it’s going to improve any time soon. His horrendous second half against the Lions was enough to raise serious questions outside of the team about his future as a starter. Now, he has had a string of six bad quarters. Weeden’s numbers against the Packers paint a bleak picture about the state of his performance: 17-of-42 for 149 yards. He had a touchdown pass, but that came in the late stages when the outcome had long been determined. The two ugliest plays were his interception (because the throw, intended for Davone Bess, never should have been made with the defender in better position than the receiver to catch the ball) and another late underhanded toss that was nearly picked off. Weeden had multiple passes that were far off the mark. He continued to show poor pocket awareness that led to sacks or him being pressured into poor throws. On several occasions, Weeden’s line gave him plenty of time, but he continually held and patted the ball, often looking confused and uncomfortable in the pocket.

>>Coach Rob Chudzinski said he never considered making a switch to backup Jason Campbell. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t expecting such a move at some point in the first half. I understand that this decision carries some ramifications, the largest of which is that if Chudzinski were to bench Weeden, he effectively would bring the quarterback’s time with the Browns to an end. But if he were to decide to stay the course, does he risk doing something that isn’t consistent with how some or most of his players feel about Weeden? And, with nine games left, Chudzinski would have to firmly believe that Campbell represents something more than simply being someone other than Weeden at quarterback. Campbell’s experience is a notable plus, but what else would he bring to the table to essentially be sold to the rest of the team (as well as to fans) as the starter for more than half of the season? By most accounts, his quarterbacking style is similar to that of Weeden – a big, strong-armed passer who primarily works from the pocket.

>>Do the Browns have to get another quarterback? I don’t see anyone out there who could provide meaningful help. And, please, don’t say that they should get Tim Tebow. Tebow has not been an answer anywhere he has been in the NFL. He is available because all teams in the league can see that he does not have what it takes to play quarterback in the league. You don’t add a quarterback, or any player, just for the sake of adding him. You have to genuinely believe he can make a contribution, either as a starter or if called upon to play.

>>Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, the Browns’ primary leader, told me after the game that it’s “not time to push the panic button.” He pointed out that, with nine games left, the Browns “still have their goals in front of them.” I have a great deal of respect for Jackson and understand, in his capacity, that he needs to do everything he can to promote as much calm and stability as possible in the wake of back-to-back losses and a mostly poor showing on both sides of the ball against Green Bay. I’m sure Jackson believes what he says. I wasn’t expecting the Browns to win this game, but I thought they would at least be a little more competitive. The offense has been alarmingly bad for six quarters, producing only one touchdown in that time. In recent games, the defense has taken backwards steps against the run (see Eddie Lacy’s 3.7-yards-per carry average) and in allowing third-down conversions (the Packers managed to do so at a rate of 54 percent). Facing the best quarterback on the schedule (and one of the best, if not the best, in the NFL) in Aaron Rodgers proved to be a rude reality check. The expected boost by the return of outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard from a knee injury never happened. If the wheels aren’t coming off, they certainly seem pretty wobbly.

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