Since we’ve got a bye week to fill, we’re going to go through and break down the Browns, position by position, giving out some grades to the guys who have played the spots. Since QB is the center of the team, we’ll start there.
Over the 4 games that Brandon Weeden has started this season, the Browns are 0-4. They rest of the time, they are 4-1. A lot of times, I feel that blame for a teams poor performance falls too heavily on the Quarterback. But with Brandon Weeden, not enough blame was being placed on his shoulders. Over the time he has played this season, Weeden has an abysmal 52.8 completion percentage, 5 TDs to 6 INTs, 3 Fumbles, a 24.3 QBR and a 66.2 Rating. The numbers don’t really even tell the tale of just how bad Weeden played though. From flip passes getting picked off, to his inability to sense the pass rush, to his inability to read the field and make adjustments, Weeden was a game killer. You could just sense the entire team deflating every single time he got on the field. Weeden was holding on to the football longer than any starting QB in the NFL outside of Russell Wilson and Michael Vick (who both extend plays with their scrambling abilities), and it showed by the sheer number of sacks he took. He developed no chemistry with his receivers, and botched drive after drive. The Browns simply could not win games with the walking detriment that was Brandon Weeden.
The ability to look back on a players play on the field is a golden opportunity to be objective. Brian Hoyer provided a spark to the Browns that was desperately needed when he took the reigns from Weeden in Week 3. Now, I think we got a little too excited by how much better the team played with Hoyer in. Hoyer’s numbers aren’t that great. 59.4 completion percentage (not bad, not great), 5 TDs and 3 INTs. Good, not great numbers. The noticeable difference was the much faster decisions that Hoyer made with the football. He chose to look to multiple receivers, scramble and avoid taking costly sacks in the pocket. He brought Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron in to the fold on offense. He provided leadership where there was none before, but his play at QB was still average. A great story, and I’d love to see what he can do next season, but lets slow down on turning the keys to the franchise over to him just yet.
Jason Campbell has shown himself thus far to be easily the best Quarterback the Browns possess. His numbers through two starts have been exceptionally good (61.3 completion percentage, 5 TDs, 0 INTs, 106 rating), and his leadership on the field is unmistakable. He’s done everything right, everything you’d expect from a true professional, veteran quarterback. He’s built guys who were struggling up (Bess and Little), he’s made plays with his feet (he’s added 6 rushes for 37 yards in 2 games), and he’s gotten rid of the football intelligently. He hasn’t forced his linemen to hold the pass rush for unreasonable amounts of times. And as a result, he’s only been sacked 3 times against two of the leagues most formidable pass rushes in KC and BAL. The thing is, Campbell has looked the part of an NFL quarterback. The entire team is playing better with him under center, not just the offense. And, he’s keeping guys accountable, making smart audibles and reads pre-snap, and executing plays flawlessly. Jason Campbell is arguably playing his best stretch of football that we’ve seen in his career. The thing is, while realistically he’s going to have less perfect games, every game that Jason Campbell starts, the Browns have a real shot to win. He’s the eyes on and statistical favorite to be the Browns starting QB moving forward. And he should be.