Cleveland Sports Weekly: Not many options for Browns at quarterback

Jim Piascik

The Cleveland Browns are only 3-4, but with a 0-4 record under current quarterback Brandon Weeden, it is easy to see the season going downhill.

So far in five games (four starts), Weeden has 1154 passing yards, five touchdowns, six interceptions and a 52.8 completion percentage. ESPN’s Total QBR rankings currently put Weeden 34th among NFL quarterbacks, ahead of only Chad Henne, Josh Freeman, and Blaine Gabbert.

Plus, if you are not a fan of just statistics, Weeden threw one of the worst interceptions you will see during Cleveland’s loss to the Lions last week.

Considering Weeden turned 30 years old last week and has looked pretty bad in his first 20 games with a 5-14 record as a starter, it certainly looks as if the Browns need to move on at the quarterback position.

If Brian Hoyer had not torn his ACL, none of this would be an issue. Hoyer had effectively taken the job and had the Browns looking up. Now that he is out for the year and Weeden has not shown any signs of improvement, a new direction at the quarterback position will come at some point.

That will likely happen in the 2014 draft — whether it be Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, or someone else — but the question is whether help can come sooner than next May.

The other option on the roster is Jason Campbell, though the 31-year-old has only played in 13 games (with seven starts) over the last three years. Campbell has been fairly average in that time, though the way he has bounced around in that time likely says more about him than his stats.

The Oakland Raiders let Campbell go after his 2011 season ended with a broken collarbone, ironically suffered against the Browns. The Chicago Bears, who learned the importance of having a competent backup quarterback in the 2011 playoffs when Todd Collins and Caleb Hanie were forced to lead the team following Jay Cutler’s injury, also let Campbell walk after one season.

Campbell could be decent if given the starting job, though the way the Raiders, Bears and Browns have treated him to date does not inspire confidence in him at this point in his career.

On the free agent market, the Browns could pick up a number of quarterbacks. But each of them is a free agent for a reason.

Vince Young is an option, though the 30-year-old has not appeared in an NFL game since 2011. Packer’s general manager Ted Thompson gave Young an endorsement after Green Bay cut him, though Thompson’s issue was with throwing too much at Young too quickly.

As’s Chris Wesseling noted, however, if it was not possible to catch Young up to speed in the preseason to be a backup quarterback to Aaron Rodgers, the same problem would apply to bringing in Young to be the starting quarterback on the Browns. Just look at how poorly Josh Freeman played for the Vikings this past Monday.

Tim Tebow is on the market, though the Browns’ front office does not seem likely to turn the team over to him. I would like to see a team bring in all the undervalued athletic quarterbacks and run a multi-quarterback read-option system, but that is not the kind of radical idea any team is going to undertake midseason.

Tebow would be fun, but realistically, I do not see Cleveland signing him.

What all of this leaves us with is riding out the storm with Weeden. Though he is older, there is at least a sliver of hope his inexperience in the NFL is to blame for the worst of his struggles.

Maybe with more time he will progress toward being a capable starter.

But even if he does not, maybe it will all work out okay. The Browns could use all the losses they can get in 2013 to better position themselves for a franchise quarterback in the 2014 draft. Finishing with an average record would only make it harder to finally fix the quarterback position once and for all.

There is no telling what will happen in the offseason and if the new regime can get it right, but for now, losing today puts the Browns in the best position for the future. So it is time to settle in. The rest of this season will probably be a bumpy ride.

Contact Jim Piascik at [email protected].