Teams and head coaches love to talk about open competition at the beginning of spring workouts, but it’s quite clear the Cleveland Browns aren’t planning on making a drastic change at the quarterback position this season, as Brandon Weeden isn’t going to be moved by Jason Campbell or Brandon Hoyer unless something drastic happens in training camp.
Norv Turner, the team’s new offensive coordinator, has already said that because Campbell has almost a decade of NFL experience under his belt, he’s not going to need too many reps as a first-team quarterback during the early workouts, with Weeden getting almost all of the first-team snaps, while Hoyer is nowhere near being close to the competition.
But it’s not like Weeden can do whatever he likes and still remain the starter. His rookie season wasn’t very impressive, although it’s hard being anything more than mediocre for the Browns, or at least last season’s Browns, as he completed only 57.4% of his passes while throwing 14 touchdowns to 17 interceptions. The starting job is his to lose, but he’ll be on a very short leash, and even a bad training camp while disappointing in preseason might cost him the spot in the lineup before the season actually begins.
As for Campbell, he is a 31-40 career starter. He has an 8-8 season with the Redskins (2008) and a 7-5 season with the Raiders in 2010, doing quite well for Oakland during his two seasons there. Someone once said that to judge if a backup is truly capable, envision him being able to go 3-3 or win three games in a row if he has to step in. If he can, than you have yourself a quality backup. Campbell may never get to be a #1 quarterback right from the start for any team in the time he has left in the NFL, but if Weeden gets injured or doesn’t do very well early on in the season, which is very likely, Campbell is well suited to fill in for him.
The Browns are going to try and be a lot more aggressive on offense next season, especially in the throwing, which should suit Weeden fine, who prefers a lot more vertical passing than the conservative looks we saw from the Browns last season. After being active in free agency, they’re hoping it’ll be a season in which they do not finish at the bottom of the AFC North, a rarity since the franchise was resurrected. Brandon Weeden playing a lot better than in his rookie season is probably the most important ingredient in that hope.