To put it politely, the Cleveland Browns have been in constant rebuild mode, since their re-birth back into the league back in 1999. To be fair, they have had some good moments as a club in that time--a playoff season in 2002 and another borderline one back in 2007--but the fact remains that this team hasn't tasted sustainable success. The key ingredient? Quarterback issues.
Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn. The list of the revolving door at quarterback goes on and on. Last year, with much of the Browns' coaching staff and front office clinging to their jobs, they made a last-ditch effort by drafting Brandon Weeden at the end of the first round. Though he is older than most rookies, Weeden still had his ups and downs as a rookie and the team stumbled to a 5-11 finish.
Ownership went in full housecleaning mode and relieved a number of front office and coaches from their duties. Though it seemed that the new staff would give Weeden another chance, nothing was certain and the Browns brought in veterans Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer to compete for the job. Weeden did enough in Training Camp and the preseason to show that he is worthy of getting a second year as a starter, as head coach Rod Chudzinzki recently named him the starter for the 2013 season.
Of the move "Chud" said (per Adam Caplan):
That also includes the quarterback position, where Brandon Weeden will be our starting quarterback for this team.
A couple of points about my decision in terms of the quarterback: number one, all three quarterbacks have shown very well. I have seen improvement, significant improvement, out of all of them and have become very comfortable with them all.
(Browns offensive coordinator) Norv (Turner) has done a great job with them. There is great chemistry in that room, and I expect that to continue. It was important for me and for us to go through the process and this process that we follow, the plan that we followed throughout the offseason and started in April in the meetings, carried out into OTAs on the field, the multiple minicamps that we had, the number of weeks in training camp that we had, as well as the first two preseason games so that we could get these guys and see them react to a lot of different situations that would come up and how they would handle them and so forth.
Based on this process, Brandon has earned this job. That’s extremely important to me that he did. He has gained my complete trust. He has gained his teammates complete trust and this organization’s trust. We are all behind him and we will all be there to support him.
As far as the timing, I felt like the timing was right in this process as we are shifting and just completed our training camp and broke camp
the other day."
It's a surprise and it isn't. Though the 2012 rookie quarterback class was a strong one, Weeden didn't exactly do much to lump himself in with Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and/or Robert Griffin III. Still he did have his moments, and some of them came at the expense of the Bengals.
In his two games against Cincinnati, Weeden and the Browns proved to be pesky foes, splitting the 2012 series in the "Battle of Ohio". Weeden was particularly impressive in these games, notching his two highest quarterback rating percentages of the year, while racking up four touchdowns and 553 yards.
It's unclear how short of a leash Weeden will have in 2013, but the guys behind him shouldn't exactly instill a ton of confidence either. It appears that the staff might be giving Weeden the opportunity to play well in 2013 and win the job for 2014 and beyond, otherwise this new regime might be inclined to go a different direction next year.