Muddled messages from the top
Joe Banner is not a dumb man.
He might not be what you’d call a solid football man, but he is no dummy.
So there was more than just a little method to the Browns’ CEO’s madness the other day when he made the radio rounds to hoist Brandon Weeden onto his own little pedestal.
Now that the Browns have somewhat revolutionized the radio industry by placing their games simultaneously on three stations, Banner felt the need to step forth and be heard on a couple of those stations.
He anointed Weeden the club’s starting quarterback, but attached a huge caveat. “There will be competition,” he told one listeners at one of the stations. “He’ll have to come in and play well and work hard and prove he deserves to maintain the position he’s in.”
That stance serves two purposes. It mollifies those who believe the second-year quarterback was saddled last season by an offense that was the total opposite of his talents and he deserves a second chance with a system more suited to those talents.
And it quiets those who believe competition at that position is counterproductive. It’s good to know the team is taking a firm stand on what could be a negative in training camp. There’s nothing like a quarterback controversy to bog things down.
The job, at least according to Banner, is Weeden’s to lose. Newly signed Jason Campbell must come in and completely outplay the incumbent in four exhibition games to wrest the job away.
Check that. Make that three exhibition games because, as we all know, the final meaningless game is more meaningless because the starters play one series, if that. That last exhibition is used mostly to determine who fills out the roster at the bottom end.
So that means Weeden and Campbell will battle it out over a period of about, maybe, nine quarters in the first three games.
And what happens when Campbell plays with second- and third-stringers? Same with Weeden. You can bet coach Rob Chudzinski will want to see both men play with the other starters, but there aren’t enough quarters in the first three games to get an accurate reading on either man in that scenario.
There just isn’t enough time to evaluate both men and make a wise decision as to who opens the regular season. So unless Weeden really bottoms out in the new offense in his limited time, he doesn’t lose the job. Right?
“We’re going to go through minicamps and training camp and by the time we get to the first game, our goal is to play whoever the best players are,” Banner said. “So (Campbell) will certainly get a chance to compete.”
Citing performance in minicamps and training camp will factor into the decision, the CEO backed off his Weeden position on another station. “I feel like we’re at a to-be-determined position,” he said. “Frankly, that’s not really where you want to be.”
Even though Banner smartly does not relegate last season’s starter to a backup status, it’ll be interesting to see how his seeming lack of faith in Weeden impacts on the quarterback.
So where does Banner really stand with Weeden? We really don’t know. Depends on which radio station you listened to. He seemed to talk out of both sides of his mouth.
Get used to it. There’s a lot more of the same on the way. Just be careful what you choose to believe.
As I said, the man is no dummy.