There could be any number of reasons that the Browns have chosen to make a series of moves that are being looked at with questioning glances from the media to the rest of the NFL to the inside of their own locker room.
If you missed it, they did the following this week alone:
They traded starting running back and 2012 third overall draft pick Trent Richardson to the Colts for a number one draft pick.
They replaced injured starting quarterback Brandon Weeden with Brian Hoyer.
They had Hoyer jump over second string quarterback, veteran Jason Campbell, to take over for Weeden.
Have the Browns given up on the season? I fail to see how it’s possible to give up on a season in which they would’ve been lucky to win six games one way or the other. Weeden has been in the NFL for two years and many might not realize that he’s about to turn 30-years-old. He spent five seasons playing minor league baseball as a pitcher for the Yankees, Dodgers and Royals before returning to football to play quarterback at Oklahoma State. He was a non-prospect in baseball and he’s a journeyman quarterback in football.
Campbell has started 71 games in his NFL career, amassed a 31-40 record and shown some flashes of ability, but he’s not going to entice the fans or the Browns any further than Weeden would.
Hoyer was Tom Brady’s backup with the Patriots, got a brief chance to play for the Cardinals last season and showed some ability. He’s from Ohio so for a team that’s going nowhere this season, he’ll at least draw up some more interest from the fans than Campbell, presumably with at least the same results and probably better.
The Richardson trade can be looked at in several ways. The most obvious being that the Browns coaching staff led by new head coach Rob Chudzinski and especially veteran offensive coordinator Norv Turner didn’t think he was the every down back that a player drafted that highly should be. The Colts’ first round draft pick in 2014 might be very lucrative considering their difficult schedule and that they overachieved last season. The bottom line with running backs is that unless you have one that’s special as Turner had with the Cowboys in Emmitt Smith and with the Chargers in LaDainian Tomlinson, you can find an adequate one that fits the scheme through waivers or in free agency.
To express outrage that the Browns are quitting on the season because they traded away a running back upon whom the prior regime had spent a number three overall pick is missing the different evaluative techniques that different people use. Clearly, the current Browns front office isn’t impressed with the previous group’s picks. It’s a good bet the Richardson simply isn’t very good or at least doesn’t fit what Chudzinski and Turner are trying to build.
They’re not so much giving up on a season as they are admitting that they’re not a good team now and the draft pick they got for Richardson is going to more valuable for the future than he was to them. They’re accepting that Hoyer is a possibility to run Turner’s offense and have a future or, at worst, will be more feasible to help the rest of the Browns’ offense learn the system with someone who can run it for when they get a quarterback Chudzinksi and Turner think they can win with.
They didn’t “quit.” They accepted reality and they’re moving forward. The fact is, they can’t be much worse than they were before, so what’s the difference?