Brandon Weeden’s time runs out in Cleveland; Jason Campbell named starting QB
The Brandon Weeden era appears to be over in Cleveland … again.
Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski announced that Jason Cambpell would receive the start at quarterback over Weeden in Week 8, for a road game against the undefeated Chiefs. Chudzinski said that he believed Campbell “gives [the Browns] the best chance to win,” according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.
Weeden, the No. 22 pick in last year’s draft, held the No. 1 QB job entering the season despite posting a 5-10 record in that role last year. But he struggled again in Weeks 1 and 2 before a thumb injury sidelined him in Week 3. That opened the door for Brian Hoyer, who stepped in and guided the Browns to three straight wins. Hoyer then suffered a season-ending ACL injury, prompting Chudzinski to turn back to Weeden.
Two more defeats changed the coach’s mind.
The rather unbelievable side note in all of this: Campbell, an eight-year NFL vet, is just one year older than Weeden — 31 years to 30. So giving Campbell control of the offense is not quite the mortgage of the future it would be in places like New York (Geno Smith), Buffalo (EJ Manuel) or Miami (Ryan Tannehill).
Cleveland linebacker D’Qwell Jackson told Ulrich on Monday that Weeden had been rattled by the rampant criticism surrounding him.
“I’d by lying if I said he wasn’t,” Jackson said. “I’m pretty sure he is. You try to block out the noise and can’t avoid it. It comes with the territory. It comes with being in this league. It’s a big-boy league. You’ve got to take the good with the bad. People are going to love him when he plays well and people are going to try to run him out of Cleveland if he doesn’t, and that goes for all of us. But it comes with the territory, especially playing in Cleveland.”
Weeden still has two years remaining on his rookie contract, but his age coupled with his failures under two different coaching staffs all but seals his fate. The Browns added an extra 2014 first-round pick by trading away RB Trent Richardson earlier this season, the general consensus being that they were loading up to shoot for a quarterback.
In the meantime (at least for one week), Campbell will get his chance. He took a loss in his only start for the Bears last season and has a career 31-40 record. Campbell has thrown for nearly 15,000 yards in the pros, though, and has shown some ability to win football games — something Weeden has not yet been able to do.
Cleveland has two games left before its Week 10 bye: at Kansas City on Sunday, then home versus Baltimore on Nov. 3. The Browns currently sit at 3-4, just two games back in the AFC North and only one out of a wild-card spot. Unfortunately, their situation has become much more dire over the past couple of weeks, with Hoyer’s injury leading into back-to-back losses.
A switch from Weeden to Campbell may be little more than rearranging the Titanic’s deck chairs. But it almost certainly means that Chudzinski is ready to permanently pull the plug on Weeden.