Thursday, March 28, 2013

The mediocrity machine churns out another one

The signing of Jason Campbell by the Browns Wednesday signals the end of Colt McCoy’s embattled tenure as a member of Cleveland’s professional football team.

The Browns haven’t said anything that would lead anyone to believe that, but do not believe for a moment that he’ll be wearing the Seal Brown and Orange in the club’s season opener in September.

That’s not going to happen. The young man from Texas is as good as gone. How he departs and to whom has yet to be determined, but it will eventuate.

The quarterbacks roster on the team is filled to overflow with Brandon Weeden, McCoy, Thad Lewis and now Campbell. Someone will go and McCoy is the most logical candidate.

There is no question Campbell was brought in to provide competition for Weeden, who strangely has received absolutely no support from the new coaching staff. It’s almost as though he’s a pariah.

Loved the quotes accompanying the Campbell signing. “Jason is an established leader who has started a number of games . . . and has had success,” said coach Rob Chudzinski. “He brings us a veteran presence and a good set of tools.”

What Chudzinski said was actually nothing. Just words strung together that had no substantive meaning. Yes, Campbell is “an established leader who has started a number of games.” So? As for the “had success” part, that’s debatable.

And the new quarterback brings the Browns “a veteran presence.” That’s right. He’s played in the NFL for seven seasons. And he “has a good set of tools.” Yep. He has a strong arm and big (6-5, 230 pounds) body.

So how does all that translate to winning football?

CEO Joe Banner chimed in, calling Campbell “a veteran player who has been productive throughout his career and will be a good addition to our team.”

Really? In what way will he be a good addition to the Browns? He never said. As for Campbell’s production, let’s examine that production.

Campbell, at 31 two years older than Weeden, arrives with a whole lot of question marks. He is 31-40 as a starter, has thrown only 76 touchdown passes in 77 National Football League games, been picked off 52 times and fumbled the ball 48 times, 34 while dropping back to pass.

That's "a good addition?"

Is Campbell the kind of quarterback you want leading the Browns? If you’re going to get roughly the same production from Weeden, doesn’t it make sense to go with the second-year man rather than someone who has a meaningful relationship with mediocrity?

Besides, Weeden should thrive a lot more with the Norv Turner offense than he did with the stodgy and mundane offense of Pat Shurmur and Brad Childress last season. Even then, he threw for nearly 3,400 yards and just 17 picks – and, yes, only 14 touchdown passes – in 517 attempts.

Campbell threw for more than 3,400 yards just once. That was in 2009 with the Washington Redskins when he compiled 3,618 yards with a career-high 20 TD passes and (also career-high) 15 interceptions.

Campbell has proven he’s nothing more than a journeyman quarterback wherever he’s been. The only thing going for him is that he is familiar with the new Cleveland offense, having run it in his two years with the Oakland Raiders.

The coach and CEO say they believe in Weeden, but it doesn’t take much reading between the lines to see that’s not the case. If they did, why bring in a journeyman like Campbell? His career has been nothing short of ordinary.

He’s an interception and fumble machine who can be counted on thrilling you one minute and breaking your heart the next. Haven’t we seen that before? I give you Tim Couch, Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, Jake Delhomme and Derek Anderson.

The parade of ordinary or less than ordinary quarterbacks is part of the reason this franchise had floundered for the better part of 14 seasons. The quarterbacks merry-go-round keeps spinning. Only the faces change.

The odd man out will be McCoy, whose misfortune was to be drafted by a team that did not provide him with a fit best suited to his talents. We’ll never know exactly what those talents are because the Browns change coordinators quicker than they change light bulbs in their Berea headquarters.

We do know, however, that McCoy does not own a strong arm and that’s one of the essentials of running a Turner offense. Being able to stretch the field is a primary requisite. Weeden and Campbell fit that description.

And when the Browns release McCoy, most likely because no one will trade for him, the front office will say nice things about him. They’ll thank him for his contributions and wish him well with whoever picks him off the waiver wire.

We don’t know anything yet about Weeden because he was hampered last season. What we do know is he was extremely efficient at Oklahoma State running the spread offense. If Turner is smart and wants Weeden to win the job, he’ll tailor the Cleveland offense to suit his talents. Not the other way around.

Right now, a segment of Browns Nation is excited about the Campbell signing. And that segment will not be satisfied with anything other than Campbell under center in the season opener.

If that is the case, then all those words of praise for Weeden by Banner, Chudzinski and, in absentia, Mike Lombardi, will be rendered meaningless. It could even be placed under the category of damning with faint praise.

If Campbell beats out Weeden for the starting job based on their performances in meaningless exhibition games, you can expect the club once again to wind up looking up at the rest of the AFC North from its semi-permanent residence – the basement.

Some things never change.


  1. Rich, Who do you think was out there you would selected?

  2. Not much to choose from, Anon. Matt Hasselbeck, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kevin Kolb. See what I mean. Based on that, I guess the definitive answer to your question is no one. Weak free-agent market in the position this year. No one is better than Campbell.

    I'd stick with Weeden, craft an offense that caters well to his abilities and go from there.

  3. It is a good signing. He brings some experience to the position which doesn't exist and has the tools to play in the new offensive scheme.
    Will he be the next Rich Gannon and blossom late, I don't know, but it sure is worth a shot.

  4. You go right on believing that. Sounds as though you're buying the party line. Nothing wrong with that. Just don't be disappointed when things don't work out.

    Jason Campbell is nothing more than a mediocre journeyman quarterback. He'll prove that to you. Assuming, of course, he beats out Weeden.

  5. Rich - I am happy with the Campbell signing but not because I want him to start. Lord no. I just think he's more suited in this offense than McCoy is and that he'd be a good backup to Weeden. I want them to give another year to Weeden. Its not like there's crap to choose from anyway - in free agency or in the draft.

  6. So you don't buy the line that the club wants a wide-open competition for the starting job. You like him because he's a better No. 2 than McCoy. Yeah, I suppose I can agree with that.

    But if Campbell winds up beating out Weeden for the starting job, then we're back at phase one in the never-ending battle to find a quality starting quarterback.