Under Center, Above Suspicion
By Jon Corpora
I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about what makes a loser loveable, as opposed to just a loser. We came up with a few ideas, chief among them that you can’t have a team with 100% consistent missteps and sadness and find them endearing for very long. (Think teams with absolutely no light at the end of the tunnel, like the Raiders and Jaguars.) Without the highs, you’ll eventually become inured to the lows, they’ll lose all their feeling, and you’ll find yourself watching defeat after crushing defeat with the occasional joyless win. A loser is loveable when they put themselves into position to do relatively well, yet seem to always come up short.
The Cleveland Browns’ run as the Kardiac Kids was a particularly fun one to watch, even if the ultimate outcome always seemed somewhat predetermined in favor of whomever Cleveland’s opponent happened to be.
Since the days of Bernie Kosar, however, the Browns have been relocated, rebranded, and subsequently born anew, and the continued misery of these Zombie Browns has only been punctuated by the fact that the original Browns - now the Baltimore Ravens - have won two championships since the relocation. In other words, the current iteration of the Cleveland Browns have been shit on more than a Boston mailbox on St. Patrick’s Day, and there is no end in sight.
After losses to the Dolphins and the Ravens and a sprained Brandon Weeden thumb, it was announced on Tuesday that Brian Hoyer would be the starting quarterback for the Browns. Let’s take a look at the Browns’ depth chart at QB:
- Brandon Weeden. Confirmed Horrible. Owner of a 56.7% Completion Percentage, 15-20 TD-INT
- Josh Campbell. Confirmed Mediocre. 82.5 Career QB Rating. Victim Of Both Dan Snyder And Al Davis
- Brian Hoyer. Confirmed Human Male. Candidate for 2008 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. Released By Three Teams. One Career Start
There is a weird tipping point where sports fandom stops being a labor of love and starts being a goddamn slog through treacle, and boneheaded moves like this are a great encapsulation of that point. Trying to figure out what the Cleveland front office is thinking here is like trying to deduce why your dog eats the trash – sure, you might figure it out, but at the end of the day, you’re trying to reason with a lesser life form and there’s still shit all over the floor. In 2013, the Browns have reached the tipping point, and we’ve only played two goddamn games.
Do I think Cleveland’s front office realized something about Brandon Weeden in two games that they didn’t already have figured out from watching him in the preseason and all of last year?
No, I do not.
Do I think Cleveland was looking for any reason at all to bench their 29-year old 2nd-year quarterback?
Do I think maybe Browns GM Michael Lombardi shut Brandon Weeden’s thumb in a car door repeatedly, laughing maniacally the whole time?
I can’t prove that he didn’t!
Here’s the part I can’t figure out: why have Hoyer leapfrog Jason Campbell on the depth chart? Being an NFL quarterback is hard, but Jason Campbell at least has the added upside of experience. Why roll the dice on a non-entity whose last remarkable achievement was Honorable Mention – All Big Ten? These games count! It’s really very odd; most teams don’t go this deep into the tank until at least week 5.
Here’s what we do know about Brian Hoyer:
- He has been in the NFL for more than twice as many seasons as Brandon Weeden, but is two years younger
- Has a 59.4 completion percentage despite only 96 career attempts, while Jason Campbell sports a 60.8% completion rate in 2,186 attempts.
- Excelled at holding clipboard well enough to stay on New England’s roster for three seasons
- Grew up in Cleveland, just in time to replace LeBron James as the city’s favorite son
- Has seen snow before
- Cannot tear a telephone book in half
- Wears face paint for no reason, despite pleas of equipment manager
- Favorite drink is the Sidewinder: 1 part orange juice, 1 part warm milk, 2 parts Cognac
The Browns visit Minnesota on Sunday. It’ll be interesting to see if Brian Hoyer can right this ship. Somehow I doubt it.