By Tony Grossi
The Morning Kickoff …
A bridge to somewhere: I like the signing of free agent quarterback Jason Campbell by the Browns for the following reasons:
* He has good NFL experience and is still young enough at 31 to legitimately compete with Brandon Weeden for the starting job.
Make no mistake, Weeden is on a one-year trial with the new regime. If he doesn’t step it up under Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner, Campbell will be the starter in 2013. Weeden will not be back in 2014, in my opinion, unless he wins the job this year and has a similarly productive season to Derek Anderson’s in 2007.
If Campbell does win the job – or if Weeden loses it -- I believe Campbell is a bridge to the next Browns hopeful. Campbell is not a long-term answer, of course. He is 31-40 as a starter in his career.
But if Weeden legitimately wins the job and wins over Jimmy Haslam, Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi, Campbell gives the Browns one of the best backups in the NFL.
* At 6-5 and 230 pounds and still possessive of a strong, live arm, Campbell fits the physical mold of what Chudzinski and Turner want in a quarterback. He also fits the mold of what is needed to lead a team in the AFC North division.
So in Weeden and Campbell, the Browns now have two physical QBs who can spin the ball through the Lake Erie winds and also withstand the tough defenses fielded by Baltimore, Pittsburgh and, yes, Cincinnati. It’s about time the Browns start taking into consideration the venue and division in which they play.
* The choice of Campbell speaks well of the input of Chudzinski and Turner on the quarterback position.
It’s obvious that Chud and Turner went to bat for Weeden after evaluating his game tape. Otherwise, Banner and Lombardi would have thrown out Weeden with the dirty laundry of another 5-11 season.
Just as plainly, Campbell’s physical characteristics and his experience in a similar offensive system in Oakland indicate he was the choice of Chudzinski and Turner to compete with Weeden.
I feel better with the two coaches making the decisions on the team’s most important position. I feel better with Campbell than with some Patriots or Eagles castoff.
* Campbell’s addition undoubtedly spells the end of Colt McCoy’s rodeo in Cleveland. If I were the Browns I would try to get a future draft pick for McCoy in a trade. New Orleans or Houston – two dome-based teams with possible interest in McCoy – each would make terrific landing spots for McCoy.
* I like the fact the Browns don’t appear to be rushing to the draft to find their next quarterback. I think the addition of Campbell virtually eliminates the need to draft one from a lackluster draft class.
Here’s the reasoning: None of the QB draftables in 2013 is a sure thing to be better than Weeden. So the Browns should invest the 2013 season in making sure about Weeden. If he tinkles down his leg, Campbell takes over and quarterback becomes the No. 1 priority in the 2014 draft.
So don't buy into the hyperventilating about private tryouts with Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, EJ Manuel, Matt Scott and any other quarterbacks in the 2013 draft. Those acts of due diligence may be prudent, but the Browns would be better served by jumpstarting their scouting of quarerbacks in the 2014 -- just in case Weeden drops the ball.
If Bill Belichick elects to keep Ryan Mallett in 2013, he surely will trade him after the season rather than lose him in free agency and the Browns would be a likely taker. Unless Weeden wins everyone over in 2013, the Mallett trade rumors will renew next year.
* Campbell’s addition assures the Browns will table any experiment in -- let alone a commitment to – the read option craze hitting the NFL.
This doesn’t mean the Browns won’t reconsider the read option offensive concepts at a later date – like, when they have a quarterback suited to executing it. But with Weeden and Campbell competing for the starting job, I think Chudzinski will clip the 100 pages of his playbook he wrote for Cam Newton in Carolin and save them for another time.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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