Can we talk quarterbacks for a moment?
Cleveland Browns fans remember that magical time, when Jason Campbell took over at quarterback and led the Browns to a series of stirring moral victories. Sadly, Campbell only posted one actual victory in his eight starts.
We’re back now and you’re probably wondering why, if we could travel back in time to any Browns season, we picked 2013.
It’s because that season taught (or should have taught) the Browns and their fans an important lesson — just because you may not be happy with your current quarterback, that doesn’t mean that plugging someone else in automatically solves the problem.
As the Browns commence their annual search for yet another quarterback, some of the focus has fallen on 12-year journeyman Josh McCown, who was in town this week visiting with the team for two days.
McCown is coming off a season where he was 1-10 as a starter with Tampa Bay, throwing for 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. On the season, McCown posted a quarterback rating of 70.5, just one spot ahead Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles for worst in the NFL.
Overall, McCown carries a 17-32 career record as a starting quarterback, a journey that has taken him to six NFL teams.
Luckily for the Browns, it looks like they won’t be team No. 7 on the McCown career tour, as he is now reportedly in serious contract talks with Buffalo.
We get, at least on a basic level, why the Browns would talk with McCown. He did work with new Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo in 2007 while the duo were in Oakland. Of course, McCown was 2-7 that year as a starter for the Raiders, once again throwing more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (10).
Thankfully familiarity will get you a meeting, but not a contract.
McCown is also reportedly open to being a mentor to the next great hope at quarterback for the Browns, which is nice.
But that misses the prime objective for the Browns.
The goal, as always, is to find a quarterback that can lead the Browns into the playoffs. The goal cannot be as simple as finding a quarterback who is “not Brian Hoyer” — that is nothing more than spinning your wheels if you are the Browns.
This isn’t intended to be a call to sign Hoyer at all costs, but when you look at the alternatives – McCown, Jake Locker, Mark Sanchez, etc. — what do the Browns have to lose by not bringing him back. (And let’s not even get started on Sam Bradford and his twice torn ACL.)
In addition to being five years older than Hoyer, McCown isn’t any better (and he’s probably worse) than Hoyer. You can try and convince yourself that the rest of the current crop of free agent quarterbacks can’t be any worse than Hoyer was at the end of the last season, but we’d counter with the fact that they are not any better, either.
So if you’re not going to improve the position with an outside free agent, why not just resign Hoyer? He may not necessarily know DeFilippo’s system, but he knows the majority of the personnel who will be running it.
At the news conference announcing his hiring, DeFilippo had this to say:
“We’re not going to just scrap something just because I’m here. I don’t have that type of ego. If something’s good that our players do well and they know, we’re going to keep doing it. That’s going to be my job here the next few weeks is I’m going to really study our last 16 games of this season and see what we’re good at, see where it fits and see where it meshes with myself and coach Pettine seeing this offense.”
If DeFilippo is telling the truth, then he’s going to fit his offense around the skill sets of his players. So it shouldn’t matter if Hoyer “doesn’t know” the system if DeFilippo creates a system to exploit what Hoyer does best.
At the recent NFL Scouting Combine, head coach Mike Pettine made it clear that he wants a starting quarterback now and that he’s not counting on Johnny Manziel to be that guy.
So why can’t that guy be Hoyer?