By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
The Morning Kickoff …
The Quarterback Chronicles: Browns O(rganized) T(eam) A(ctivitie)s began this week, which means it’s time to update the quarterback situation.
GM Mike Lombardi kicked off things Monday at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club in Canton.
Asked to comment on Brandon Weeden, Lombardi continued to be conspicuously noncommittal.
“Everything’s an evaluation,” Lombardi said. “We just have to keep going. Quarterback’s very important. I think Brandon’s a young player. It’s only his second year in the league. He’s got a great opportunity to demonstrate his talent. (Offensive coordinator) Norv (Turner) has been around some really good quarterbacks. Norv and Chud (head coach Rob Chudzinski) have been able to modify their system to utilize the talent level of the player.”
What the heck does that mean? Here is my interpretation:
“I wanted Ryan Mallett, but Bill (Belichick) wants to keep him for another year. Norv and Chud say they can win with Weeden. Joe (Banner) said we’re going with Weeden, so that’s what we’re going to do.”
Meanwhile, former Arizona quarterback Brian Hoyer, for whom Lombardi has had a crush, cleared league waivers, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Hoyer is the native Clevelander who backed up Tom Brady in New England for three years. When Belichick decided to elevate Mallett to the top backup spot, Lombardi talked up Hoyer on NFL Network and his other media platforms to try to garner trade interest.
Hoyer eventually was released. He spent two weeks in 2012 with the Steelers and finished the season with the Cardinals. When Bruce Arians took over as Cardinals coach, he blocked the free agent-to-be Hoyer from leaving by giving him the second-round tender. Now with all the jobs filled, Hoyer was waived.
Would the Browns sign Hoyer and throw him into the mix with Weeden, Jason Campbell and Thad Lewis?
Weeden full steam ahead: OTAs began with Weeden the No. 1 quarterback, which was no surprise. Free agent-signee Jason Campbell is No. 2 and Pat Shurmur holdover Thad Lewis is No. 3.
The Chudzinski-Turner offense – a vertical passing game played off a power running game – would seem to be an ideal change for a team that invested first-round draft picks last year in Weeden and Trent Richardson.
On Cleveland Browns Daily on Tuesday, Weeden said to host Vic Carucci, “I looked at (receiver) Greg Little walking in and said, ‘What do you think?’ And he’s like, ‘This is fun.’ That’s what we want. We want to go out and have fun. Usually as a receiver and a quarterback, that’s dropping back and slinging it around a little bit. That’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna throw the football down the field. We’ve got guys that can go get it. It’s fun to come to work every day.”
Weeden should be the primary beneficiary of the Chudzinski-Turner offense. I mean, it produced a Pro Bowl-alternate season out of Derek Anderson in 2007. Weeden also should benefit more than anyone from the addition of ex-Dolphins receiver Davone Bess, a six-year NFL veteran.
“He’s a stud,” Weeden said. “He’s one of those guys that runs extremely good routes. Very savvy, understands defenses, where to find the holes. He’s one of those guys, you kind of rely on. You know he’s going to be in the right spot. He wants to talk Xs and Os, what he can do to help me. That’s his veteran leadership.”
Going forward: Weeden is on a one-year trial. He has to win everyone over in his second NFL season or he will become the 18th Browns quarterback to lose his job since 1999.
Many believe that the reason the Browns traded out of the fourth and fifth rounds of the 2013 draft was to stock up on extra picks in 2014 to make a run, if necessary, at the top quarterback in next year’s draft.
There’s always the chance the Browns would use those extra picks as collateral to trade for Mallett.
There’s also the chance that Weeden could flourish under Chudzinski and Turner and put to rest, for another year, the Cleveland quarterback carousel.
|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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