The Cleveland Browns and year-over-year quarterback envy

Brandon Weeden close up

Colt McCoy Brandon WeedenOn March 26th 2013 we are now a little over a year since the Browns missed out on commencing a trade with the St. Louis Rams for the right to draft Robert Griffin III. I remember those days embarrassingly now not because it was dumb to covet RG3 as a Browns fan, but because I wasted so many words talking about a guy who would end up playing for a different team. Then again, faced with an uncertain future of Colt McCoy, and with the potential franchise-changing talent seemingly in reach it is quite defensible, really. Another year goes by and another year where lots of talk has been bandied about with regard to the Browns quarterback position. This time, even as the Browns seem poised to go into the year with an unproven guy, I think I’m alright with it.

Alex Smith could be a Cleveland Brown right now.1 We all knew he was going to change teams and there’s no reason why the Browns couldn’t have made that deal if they’d really wanted to make it. Now that he’s in Kansas City and we know that Andy Reid parted with pick number 34 plus more, I think I can safely say I’m O.K. with the Browns’ decision to forego Alex Smith.

That isn’t to say I wouldn’t feel slightly better about the Browns’ chances this year with Alex Smith on board as opposed to Brandon Weeden. I am completely confident that the Browns could have guaranteed a quarterback quality basement of slightly above mediocre with Alex Smith. The ceiling on Smith still remains to be seen, even after eight seasons of experience in the NFL. But his basement is higher in my confidence levels than any kind of basement that I can conceive of for Brandon Weeden. The mere fact is that even without subjectively hating on Brandon Weeden, we just don’t have any idea if we’ve seen his best or worst after his rookie year.

In the end and in hindsight, knowing what the price was for Alex Smith, I think it’s reasonable to go into the season with Brandon Weeden. Again, this isn’t to say the Browns wouldn’t be marginally better off with Alex Smith as opposed to Brandon Weeden, because any betting man would bet that they would be. It’s simply to say if you’re driving a 2001 Honda Accord that might or might not get you to your destination, you’re better off betting on it than paying $30,000 for a 2007.2

And back to RG3, I know it’s been said ad nauseum at this point, but there is no RG3 in the draft this year. The only thing worse than not having a quarterback or going into the season with a marginal QB prospect is continually betting big on the wrong guy. It’s one thing to go crazy throwing the kitchen sink into a trade for RG3 and it’s quite another to use a high round draft pick on Geno Smith. It’s possible that Smith will be great, and even have a better career than RG3. Crazy things happen in the NFL from time to time. Again, this is about bets and percentages, and it’s hard to believe that’s a good bet.

So the Browns enter another season with QB envy. Even with an outside shot of Brandon Weeden developing into a solid quarterback, there’s little doubt the Browns will most likely be looking up at all three of the other teams in their division when it comes to pure quarterback play this year. If they’re lucky, they’ll only be looking up at two if Weeden can somehow prove to be better than Andy Dalton.

Last year the QB envy was almost painful when considering how the Browns lost out on RG3. This year, it’s more palatable because of the available options. The only question now is if this takes some pressure off of Brandon Weeden and whether or not that’s even a good thing as he tries to establish his basement and raise his ceiling.

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Footnotes:

  1. I focus on Alex Smith because out of all the available guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jason Campbell, etc, I think he’s the best of the bunch. []
  2. I’m sure my car analogy will go over real well in conversations about player safety. []
  • boomhauertjs

    We’ll be having the same discussion next year…

  • BuckeyeDawg

    I watched almost every minute of every game last year. In Weeden, I saw a rookie QB who looked like a rookie at times and had flashes of brilliance at times. All while playing for a questionable head coach with questionable play calling and a supporting cast full of 1st and 2nd year players. There was never a point last season when I looked and Weeden and thought “this guy is a lost cause…better look for another QB.” My prevailing thought was “he’s making some rookie mistakes, but give this guy some experience, some better/more experienced guys around hm, and a scheme that fits his strengths and we might have something here”.

    In summary, I don’t understand this incessant desire by some Browns fans to assume that we need ANOTHER QB after 14 games. Call me crazy, and maybe I’m in the minority, but I saw enough good last year that I want to see more.

  • mgbode

    and that is the only QB stability we have going

  • RBG

    Vive le Thaddeus Lewis!

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    yes.

  • MrCleaveland

    Enough RGIII already. He shredded his knee and is now damaged goods, which should have come as no surprise to anyone.

    I’m glad we didn’t give up a boatload of picks to get some guy who’s going to spend as much time in rehab as on the field.

  • http://www.facebook.com/oscar.shlotkinz Oscar Slotkin

    You are a crazy minority

  • Garry_Owen

    I really wish this was the last time I would say this, but I know it’s not – we’ll be rehashing this Robert Griffin The Third Merciful and Mighty thing for the rest of time (or at least until the Browns win the Super Bowl, which is a distinction without a difference) – but . . .

    We did not LOSE OUT ON RG3. We won that deal. We didn’t mortgage the farm (2 farms, really), and we didn’t have to see our only offensively talent player go down with a potentially catostrophic injury (which was just as likely – if not more likely – to happen in Cleveland last year as in Washington).

    As incredibly, beautifully, dreamily (Brady Quinn du jour) talented as Griffin is, getting him last year would have set us back even more years than we are already set back.

    For what it’s worth, Chip Kelly agrees with me.

    AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH

  • Garry_Owen

    There’s comfort in known unknowns.

  • MrCleaveland

    I’ll bet you work standing up.

  • maxfnmloans

    I agree with you…and I also remember when people wanted Mike Pagel to start over Bernie. Only in Cleveland

  • Garry_Owen

    Work?

  • maxfnmloans

    how about this one “If we had lost to the Colts in 2011, we would have had the #1 overall pick”? can we re-hash that again? i’m going to stick my head in a vice and play “Casino”

  • Garry_Owen

    Nobody was losing to the Colts in 2011. The Colts made d**n sure that wasn’t going to happen!

    But what if Mike Junkin had worked out? Huh?

  • Garry_Owen

    Instead of “crazy,” I’m going to go with “rational.”

    That’s a dangerous thing in this town, my friend.

  • mgbode

    Chip Kelly also thinks that Pat Shurmur as OC is a good idea.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    I love this whole thread so very much. Well done all of you.

  • dan

    Those poor people in Washington, with only a winning season, a playoff appearance, and hope for the future to compensate for having a quarterback finish the season injured. While the Browns, well, they had a quarterback who finished the season injured too, but it was one of those injuries pocket passers get, not some injury one of these new-fangled, run around and throw the ball quarterback-type injuries.

    Anyway, you claim that the Browns didn’t have to “mortgage the farm.” Wasington gave up 3 #1s and a #2 for RG3. While the Browns gave up a #1 for Weeden. And a second #1 for Quinn. And a #3 for McCoy. And another #3 for Frye. Plus free agency dollars for Delhomme. And a sizeable contract for Anderson. Also, a free agent contract for Garcia. And got Theo Ratliff in a trade. And so on. And will probably draft a quarterback this year in the middle rounds. And then in the first round next year or the year after. Or maybe they’ll trade for Mallett. Etc.

    The Browns have already mortgaged several farms on the quarterback position. Solve the quarterback position — and this is the important point — you can spend those resources on other positions. Or you can keep doing the same thing over and over again, wasting tons of resources on guys who will never become a franchise quarterback, and pat yourself on the back for not wasting resources.

  • Garry_Owen

    So after squandering all of those 1st round picks that you cite, we should reinforce failure by losing 3 more? No thanks. By the time we could get nearly enough talent to assist The Third in turning the ship around, RG5 will have been born.

    I’m so tired of this dumb debate. Looking behind and speculating on what might have been does not help you move forward.

  • MrCleaveland

    Now I KNOW you work standing up.

    Happy 10th.

  • MrCleaveland

    Yeah, that hindsight’s a beach. Now I KNOW you work standing up.

    Happy 10th!

  • http://twitter.com/bigtime1957 B T Phillips

    Look the Browns remind me of the says, a day late and a dollar short, fact is RG3 was as close to a sure thing as Luck was, When You See A guy like that, you do what ever it takes to get him, They Come around not to often that you can not pass that up, The browns Blew it, Heckart and Holmgrem Legacy should be incompetent, As for Weeden, That was a wasted first round pick, Not that the kid might be OK but the fact he wasn’t a first round pick. There was better players to take at 22 and the browns Blew it, To Draft a 28 year old rookie is nuts at QB, I said it before the Draft and all Last year, By the time he gets good he will be 33 or 34 and u will be in the market to draft a new QB because Weeden is to old, It was a stupid move, Every year we worry about a QB, You wanna know why others succeed and ours do not, It is because they have a Team together already when they bring a new kid in, we never get a good one because we keep drafting QB’s instead of ball players, To Build the Team First, Forget the QB for 2 or 3 years and just draft players, Then bring in a kid to a Team, Instead of a rebuilding project, u cam follow me on twitter @bigtime1957

  • Henry Brown

    Being rational is crazy.

  • dan

    Sunk costs are sunk costs. I’m saying the Browns are going to spend more in the future trying to get a QB nearly as good as RG3 than they would have spent getting RG3, while if they had just gotten him, they could start building around him without wasting all the resources they are going to spend trying to get a decent quarterback “cheaper.”

  • Big Z

    Yeah. The Browns could’ve also had Kaepernick, Cousins, Wilson, or Tannehill…

  • NoVA Buckeye

    Ugh, not Tannehill. I’m actually convinced he’s worse than Weeden with his accuracy issues as well as trouble against faster defenses than the ones he’s used to at the college level. We might be talking Geno Smith if we picked Tannehill instead of Richardson

  • Garry_Owen

    Paint for me a picture, any picture, where the Browns are practically better off in 2013 or even 2014 with RG3 than we actually are without him. It’s impossible.

  • Sixth City Fan

    Preach on…

  • BenRM

    Completely ignoring how good or not Weeden is, it was the correct football move to refrain from trading for a QB and is the right move not to draft one.

    With few to no QBs in this year’s draft that have first round talent, it would be stupid to draft one. With no second round draft pick, it would be stupid to waste what few picks remain to trade for one. Further, to bail on Weeden this early is to completely waste last year’s pick. (Not this administration’s problem, but you still need to try to find value wherever you can).

    Perhaps most importantly, the team will only get marginally better over the next two years with either move (trade or draft). The trade prospects aren’t markedly better than Weeden. And the draft prospects will need time to grow, despite the fact that they might have a much higher ceiling.

  • BenRM

    I wouldn’t Want to Follow Someone who Capitalizes Completely random words. also I Do not Find That Your football Insight Is Very Worthwhile.

  • Garry_Owen

    But he did get “Heckart” and “Holmgrem” right.

  • BenRM

    small miracles, I suppose!

  • CBI

    +1 for the Junkin reference.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    We want more we want more!

  • mgbode

    well, if you want more QBs, then you came to the right place.

    Cleveland Browns: starting a parade of mediocre to horrendous QB’s since 1999.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Gotta keep the material flowing for the WFNY staffers!!!