Browns clean house of QBs
CLEVELAND – Brandon Weeden got exactly what he wanted.
It’s safe to say the Browns organization and most its fans also welcomed the news Wednesday that Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 draft, has been granted his wish to be released. The news came shortly before the Browns announced that quarterback Jason Campbell’s contract had been terminated.
That leaves Brian Hoyer, who’s coming off reconstructive knee surgery, as the only quarterback on the depth chart. You might say there’s a high probability the Browns will use one of their two picks in the first round of the NFL draft on a quarterback.
There’s also speculation of interest in Houston Texans free agent quarterback Matt Schaub, who had a meltdown of a 2013 season. Schaub wants to be anywhere but Houston, and the Browns might be a willing partner.
The Browns almost have to add a free-agent quarterback. There’s no assurance that Hoyer will be 100 percent ready to play at the start of next season, although reports are that he’s making excellent recovery. Even if Hoyer is healthy, does the new regime of general manager Ray Farmer and coach Mike Pettine think he’s the long-term answer or, at the very least, a short-term answer to tutor the rookie who will undoubtedly be added in the draft?
The release of Weeden ends another sad quarterback story for the Browns, who haven’t solved the position since their return to the NFL in 1999. Weeden appeared in 23 combined games the last two seasons (20 starts). He was plagued by inconsistent accuracy (a 55.9 completion percentage). Weeden threw for 5,116 yards, 23 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.
Weeden lost the starting job to Hoyer after suffering a hand injury in the second game of last season. He started two games after Hoyer was hurt but was then benched in favor of Campbell.
The best thing that could have happened to Weeden this offseason was to be waived. He had become widely disliked by fans, many of whom booed his appearances on the field before he had a chance to make a mistake.
While Farmer was busy making the moves at quarterback, he was able to take a few minutes to stop by the media room to introduce recent additions Karlos Dansby, Donte Whitner and Isaiah Trufant. Dansby will slip in as a starting inside linebacker, and Whitner will get the call at one of the safety spots. Trufant will likely be an extra cornerback.
Dansby and Whitner spoke openly about the chances both are taking by leaving winning teams (Dansby the Arizona Cardinals and Whitner the 49ers) to play for a franchise that’s known nothing but losing for most of the last 25 years.
Dansby, in particular, spoke glowingly about the future. You would think that there’s a Super Bowl in the team’s near future listening to him.
“There’s something special about this city,” said Dansby, a first-team All Pro last season. “I’ve been on the west coast; I’ve been down south. I’ve never been in this element before, so it’s brand new to me.
“I’m taking a leap of faith. I really believe there’s something special going on here. That’s the reason I’m here, and I’m going to make the most of this opportunity.”
Coming to Cleveland was an easy choice for Whitner, who played at Cleveland Glenville High School and then Ohio State. He believes the recent additions and perhaps more moves to come will be the turning point for the franchise.
“Us three, we weren’t here,” Whitner said of all the previous losing seasons. “The mindset that we’re going to bring to this football team – the toughness, the physical nature that we’ll bring; I don’t believe that was here.
“I know these guys feel the same way; somebody’s going to get hit. You’re going to have a feared defensive unit out there, and if you have a feared defensive unit – guys that don’t give up the big play, that tackle well, get off the field on third down, get after the quarterback – you always have a chance to win the football game.”
It all sounds so good in March. Now it’s a matter of walking the walk when the season starts.