Training camp is just around the corner. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll take a look at some of the bigger storylines facing the Browns as they start preseason…
As an old offensive and defensive linemen, I would love to say that the biggest story of camp is who grabs the guard spots. Or maybe the defensive line rotation. But I’d be fooling myself.
The biggest question that the new Browns regime has to answer is about Brandon Weeden. Is he a quality starting quarterback in the NFL or not? That’s what it boils down to.
The Browns may have said that there will be some sort of competition, but the job will be Weeden’s to lose. He took the starter’s reps in mini-camp. Which was the right move. It was the first time Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner had the chance to coach Weeden. I believe that he would have to show in camp that he is absolutely not a starting QB to lose the job.
Weeden turns 30 in October. Second year or not, this will likely be Weeden’s last real chance to start in the NFL. I can’t imagine the Browns going with Jason Campbell this year and giving Weeden another shot next season. No, this is the year they make up their minds if they have the starter of the future in Weeden or if they need to address the issue next off-season.
There are no more excuses for Weeden. He has a coaching staff that is willing to tailor the offense to his strengths. Pat Shurmur took his version of the west coast offense out of town. Rob Chudzinski loves a big armed QB. Norv Turner loves to throw the ball downfield. The Browns are so committed to that style of offense that they made wholesale changes at the position behind Weeden so that the team’s style of play won’t change if Weeden is injured or out. Jason Campbell is an adequate back-up and like Weeden has a big arm and is comfortable in the shotgun.
The offense around Weeden should be better as well.
While the team didn’t break the bank to bring in a big name receiver, they did bring in a safety net in WR Devone Bess. Bess was a first down machine in Miami. They also took a chance on 6’5″ David Nelson, who could be a factor if he fully recovers from his Achilles injury. Of course the Browns also have Greg Little, who seems poised to have a bigger year this year than last and Josh Gordon, at least after he serves a 2 game suspension.
Under Norv Turner the Browns will hopefully have more success with the running game, but that will of course depend on the health of Trent Richardson. Don’t sleep on Dion Lewis either, who could be the change of pace back that helps the offense and of course Weeden.
Remember, earlier this year ESPN’s Ron Jaworski suggested that Weeden will thrive under the new system- “For a rookie, Weeden showed uncommon poise and calm in the pocket with consistently solid mechanics,” said Jaworksi. The former Eagles quarterback cited such intricacies as Weeden staying on his back foot despite being under pressure, and driving the football downfield with above-average velocity. There’s no question in my mind that his throwing skill set and Turner’s quarterback-friendly system will mesh effectively.”
The biggest storyline of training camp will be Weeden and how Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner mold him and the offense together.