Only two weeks of football have gone by in the National Football League, and already it appears as though the Cleveland Browns are throwing in the towel and preparing for next season. They lost their first two games to the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens largely due to their offensive ineptitude, scoring a combined 16 points in the two games.
Now, that inept offense is only going to get worse. Starting quarterback Brandon Weeden, who has shown flashes of his potential as a franchise quarterback, has officially been ruled out for this week’s game versus the Minnesota Vikings with a sprained thumb on his throwing hand that will likely take several weeks to heal.
Weeden expressed some of his frustrations with the media, "You never want to get hurt. I don't care when it is, could be the 16th game or the first game, as a player, you want to be out there. So yeah, it is frustrating. Even though the results weren't there offensively, we were starting to do some better things."
Now Browns Head Coach Rob Chudzinski has handed the reigns of the offense over to third string quarterback Brian Hoyer, who has one career start, instead of veteran Jason Campbell, who has seventy-one career starts. Chudzinski stated that Hoyer gave the Browns "the best chance to win for this week." Hoyer has previously spent time in Arizona and New England, playing behind quarterbacks such as Kevin Kolb and Tom Brady.
Rob Chudzinski would go on to state, "We’re 0-2 right now so we’re looking to shake things up to start winning games." Well shaking things up they did, as Hoyer will now be playing with Davone Bess and Josh Gordon as his starting wide receivers instead of Greg Little, who has struggled with drops this season. This will be Gordon’s first game back after being suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
The Browns were not done shaking things up on Wednesday, though, as the biggest news of the day was the trade sending running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 first round draft pick. Both Richardson and Weeden were drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the previous Cleveland Browns administration.
It is impossible to know the entire situation right now for the Browns trading their most talented offensive player for what will most likely be a later first round draft slot (draft order is the inverse of the final standings).
In 2012, the Browns traded their 4th overall pick, 4th round pick, 5th round pick, and 7th round pick to move up one slot to secure Trent Richardson, a player thought to be the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. So, essentially, the Browns gave up all of those picks for a low first round selection two years later.
The Browns are vehemently denying giving up on this season and looking to simply acquire new talent, and perhaps a franchise quarterback, in the 2014 NFL Draft. Says Cleveland CEO Joe Banner, "I think the proof in that will come as we keep playing. I think that people are going to see that we need to play hard and prepare and do everything that we can every week." What the "proof" that Banner speaks of is yet to be seen, but it certainly is not looking very promising.