By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
The Morning Kickoff …
Countdown to training camp: First in a series previewing the Browns’ roster leading up to the opening of training camp on July 25.
Quick overview: It has become a cliché to say the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. But it’s truer now than ever before. At the risk of oversimplification, the Browns will not return to respectability and playoff contention until this position reaches those qualifications. This new Browns’ regime realizes more than any before it that the fortunes of the team lie in the hands of its quarterback.
Projected keepers on final roster: Three.
Starter entering camp: 3 Brandon Weeden (2013 salary cap number: $1.837 million).
Others in camp (alphabetically): 17 Jason Campbell, 6 Brian Hoyer.
Newcomers: Campbell, signed as free agent, 2 years/$3.75 million; Hoyer, signed as free agent, 2 years/$1.965 million.
Analysis: The Browns promised competition at this position, but fell short of declaring an “open competition.” Weeden was under siege from the moment Joe Banner took over as CEO and brought along friend Mike Lombardi as his top football lieutenant. But when the transaction season ended, Weeden was still standing throughout OTAs and minicamps as the undisputed starter. Banner/Lombardi replaced Colt McCoy and Thad Lewis with Campbell and Hoyer. As a result, the QB roster was upgraded with legit NFL experience.
Don’t be surprised if: Hoyer surpasses Campbell for the No. 2 job. A particular favorite of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, and, thus, Lombardi, Hoyer received unsolicited love from three coaching candidates when the team conducted interviews to replace Pat Shurmur. Hoyer doesn’t have the arm strength of the other two, but coaches love his work ethic, football intelligence and leadership ability.
Key questions: 1. Can Weeden win over Banner and Lombardi, who obviously doubt him, and reward the confidence and support showed by the coaches, or does he open the door for Campbell or, more probably, Hoyer, to steal the starting job? 2. If Weeden clearly takes to the new coaching and new vertical passing scheme, and Hoyer lives up to expectations as a capable backup, would the Browns try to trade Campbell and go with only two quarterbacks?
Fun facts: Weeden is trying to become only the third Browns quarterback since 1999 to start a season opener in two consecutive years. The Browns have had 11 different opening-game quarterbacks in 14 years. In total, they have had 18 quarterbacks make at least one start in 224 games since 1999.
|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 email@example.comFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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