Do the Browns really need a QB competition?
While we have already made a solid case for why the Browns would be better served to give quarterback Brandon Weeden a year in Norv Turner’s offense to see what they really have at the position, the Browns have other ideas.
“I think Norv and (Rob) Chudzinski have been very open that they like a lot of what Brandon does, but we’re going to have competition at that position, and I think competition makes us all better,” owner Jimmy Haslam said earlier this month.
Now whether that competition comes in the form of current San Franciso quarterback Alex Smith, who was available a year ago following a 3,100-yard season with 17 touchdowns compared to five interceptions and drew zero interest from any team (which means something); career backup Matt Moore from Miami, a player that Turner is reportedly a “big fan” of for reasons not readily apparent; or a player that has not yet been identified (and we can’t help but think that Mike Lombardi just can’t wait to prove how smart he is and select a quarterback way too high in the upcoming draft), it looks like there will be a new face in training camp taking snaps against Weeden.
A player may look good in training camp practices or in a preseason friendly, but does that mean they are the better player? The answer may not be as obvious as it appears. After all, preseason success is often as much about what the opposing team is (or is not) doing as it is about a particular player’s abilities.
Just as importantly, if the new regime brings in someone else at the quarterback position, is there really any legitimate chance that player won’t “win” the quarterback competition?
We all know the love affair that NFL coaches and general managers have for bringing in “their players” when they take over a new team. Far too often, especially here in Cleveland, we’ve seen coaches unable to resist the siren’s call to give roster spots to players who can “teach their system” rather than, we don’t know, doing some radical like selecting players who can actually play the game.
So if Joe Banner, Lombardi and Chudzinski bring in someone, he will be “their guy.” Weeden is certainly not “their guy” and because of that it is easy to dump him and lay the blame on former general manager Tom Heckert (“see, that’s why we had to fire him. Just a mess, really.”)
One of the big complaints about Weeden last season was the fact that the Browns handed him the starting quarterback job almost as soon as they drafted him, as opposed to letting him age on the bench for a few years (a completely unrealistic option for a 28-year-old rookie).
But if the Browns turn around and do the same thing with a new quarterback this year, does that guarantee the team will be better?
It still seems the best course of action is to continue going all in on Weeden, at least for another year, while the team continues to fill some other important holes on the roster. Especially when you look at the potential quarterbacks available in the draft or through free agency.
Because, really, after 13 years of looking for a quarterback, is one more year really going to be all that difficult?
Good read here from friend of the program Jim Kanicki on how, historically, successful NFL teams have had strong offensive lines (although that doesn’t explain the ongoing success of Pittsburgh and Baltimore).
And while we agree that Buffalo’s Andy Levitre would be a good get in free agency for the Browns, although we worry a bit about him upsetting the salary structure along the offensive line as it’s important to take care of your own players over free agents, there are a couple of other guards that have also caught our eye.
One is free agent Geoff Schwartz, brother of current Browns right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. According to Pro Football Focus, the elder Schwartz is the third-best free agent among guards and centers and while PFF grades him at just +5.8 in limited time for the 2012 season, he was +19.3 as a full-time starter with Carolina in 2010. (By comparison, Mitchell Schwartz graded out at +15.9).
Depending on how many holes the Browns can fill (or choose to fill) in free agency, we also wouldn’t mind them taking a strong look at Kent State guard Brian Winters if he’s sitting there in the third round.
(Photo by ClevelandBrowns.com)