COMMENTARY | It's do or die time for Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden.
After a so-so rookie season in 2012, Weeden lost a lot of his job security last New Year's Eve when Browns coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert were shown the door by owner Jimmy Haslam. Fortunately for Weeden, the field of quarterbacks available this past offseason via free agency and the draft was underwhelming at best, thus he is penciled in as the Browns' starting quarterback heading into 2013.
Of course, this is the Cleveland Browns we are talking about here.
Two things have gone hand in hand since the Browns returned to Cleveland in 1999: losing football and quarterback controversies. From Tim Couch versus Kelly Holcomb to Trent Dilfer versus Charlie Frye to Derek Anderson versus Brady Quinn, watching two mediocre signal-callers duke it out to be the starter has been almost a yearly occurrence for weary Browns fans. If nothing else, the coverage of these battles by the local media has diverted attention away from the Browns record at the time, which sad to say, has usually been under .500.
2013 could bring more of the same in Cleveland.
Refusing to stand pat in the offseason, the Browns traded the dissatisfied Colt McCoy to the San Francisco 49ers on April 1. Many Browns fans will argue that McCoy never got a fair shake during his time as Cleveland's starter. What prompted that trade, though, was the move that could create a quarterback controversy this fall in Northeast Ohio; the March 26 signing of Jason Campbell.
Entering his ninth NFL season, Campbell started 70 games for the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders between 2006 and 2011 before backing up Jay Cutler last fall as a member of the Chicago Bears. Regrettably, Campbell's teams were only 31-39 in those 70 starts, so even though his 82.5 career quarterback rating is comparable to those of Eli Manning(82.7) and Matt Hasselbeck(82.2), Campbell has not been able to replicate their success in the win-loss column.
His win-loss record notwithstanding, Campbell still provides a formidable competitor for Weeden in regards to the Browns' starting job. He has only thrown 52 interceptions in 2182 career passing attempts and his 60.9 career completion percentage is the 24th best mark in NFL history. For all his NFL experience, Campbell is only 22 months older than Weeden, a result of Weeden's aborted professional baseball career. Throw in the fact that Campbell is easily more mobile than the sometimes sloth-like Weeden, and one might wonder why there wasn't an open battle for the starting quarterback position in training camp.
The probable answer to that question lies in the powerful right of arm of Weeden.
It's no secret that new head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner plan to air it out on offense, and Weeden's ability to throw the deep ball will make or break him in 2013. If Weeden continues to throw interceptions at the rate he did in 2012, though, his tenure as Cleveland's starter may come to an abrupt end this fall, with the more reliable Campbell taking over the reins. Hopefully, that scenario won't occur, because right now Browns fans need another quarterback controversy in this city like a hole in the head.
Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo! Contributor who has followed the Cleveland Browns for 25 years.
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