AKRON (92.3 The Fan) – Better safe than sorry.
That’s how Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner feels when it comes to depth at quarterback.
Last week the Browns added intrigue and depth to the position by signing Cleveland native Brian Hoyer to a 2-year deal.
“There have been more stories written about Brian Hoyer being a Brown over the last 4 months than probably any player in history,” Turner joked prior to speaking at the 34th annual Akron Browns Backers banquet at Tangier in Akron Monday evening. “He was released and was available. He’s a guy that’s been with some good teams in backup situations. He’s played very little football but I think we do like his skillset.”
Hoyer is the 4th quarterback currently on the roster and he is likely 3rd on the depth chart in front of Thaddeus Lewis but behind Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell.
Whether or not 3 or all 4 survive through training camp is another story and a decision that Turner is glad he doesn’t have to make anymore.
“I’m going to coach those guys and give my opinion,” Turner said. “I think that you need to go with 3 quarterbacks. I think if you don’t you’re playing with fire.
“It’s too valuable of a position and you need quarterbacks.”
Turner was asked to assess the Browns’ situation under center with the addition of Hoyer last Friday.
“I think we have 3 talented guys,” Turner said. “Brandon is a 1 year player in the NFL that did a lot more good things than people give him credit for. I like his composure and the way he competes. He’s worked awfully hard and has to be one of the hardest working guys on our team right now and so you say ‘I hope there’s a big upside.’
“Jason has played 9 years in the league. He’s proven he can win in the league. He’s proven he can play. When he’s been with good teams, he’s played better than when he’s been with bad teams, which is what I’d say with a lot of guys. And then with Brian, you’ve got a guy that’s been a backup in some good situations. He really hasn’t played enough to know where he’s at, and we like the way he throws the ball. We like a lot of things about him.”
The Browns new brass – CEO Joe Banner, GM Michael Lombardi and head coach Rob Chudzinski – have played the Weeden card close to the vest but Turner’s comments Monday evening were the most complimentary words heard since January.
While Turner appears to be in Weeden’s corner, the former Oklahoma State Cowboy has plenty to prove as a sophomore and it’s too early for Turner to form a definitive opinion.
“We’ve actually had 3 practices where we’ve been able to go against our defense,” Turner said. “So it’s hard for the opinion that you initially have to change over 3 practices. He’s got a big arm, he’s very intelligent, makes good decisions, he throws the ball up the field the way we would like to but he’s very accurate underneath.
“He’s like all of our guys; he’s learning a new system. We have a lot of work to do, all of us – coaches, players, quarterbacks but I think we’ve made progress over the last 7 weeks.”
Weeden threw for 3,385 yards and went 5-10 as a rookie. He also looked like a round peg being driven into a square hole when it came to being wedged into former head coach Pat Shurmur’s west coast offense.
“I would not talk about system with any guy,” Turner said. “Good players play. They play in any system, and they play when they’re comfortable. What happened to Brandon, Brandon was in here with a very young group of guys. So when you have a lot of young guys and they’re trying to feel their way together, I think it’s hard. I think all those guys having a year together, including Brandon, will help him a great deal.
“But Josh [Gordon] has had a year. Greg Little has had a year. Trent [Richardson] has had a year. Some of the other guys have had some exposure. Jordan [Cameron] has gotten a little bit more exposure. Now he’s in the middle of having a good offseason. So all of those things have to be what help us get better.”
What will be interesting is to see how the snaps are divided amongst the 4 quarterbacks as the offseason progresses.
Weeden needs all the reps he can get. Hoyer and Lewis too. Campbell is the lone veteran among them but even he is learning a new offensive system and could use the work.
“If you have a veteran quarterback who has played a lot, you can kind of take care of him and limit a little bit his reps,” Turner said. “That’s one of the reasons having a guy like Jason Campbell — he’s played so much you hope maybe once we get going with everything we’re doing he doesn’t need as many reps as maybe a young guy does.
“But my experience with young quarterbacks, a guy that’s in his second year, you need all the reps you can give him.”