I love talking about sports almost more than anything… I hate writing about sports almost more than anything… There was a time however that I used writing to fill the need to share my opinions (mostly about the Browns), so I went looking for one I specific article.
Almost exactly 5 years ago today, I wrote a piece about how the Cleveland Browns and Alex Smith were perfect for each other. It was actually my most successful post ever in terms of reads. The reason I went looking for this is because here I am 5 years later thinking the Browns and Alex Smith are perfect for each other! Oh the joys of being a Browns fan… It didn’t happen for me then but maybe if I show a little humility to the football Gods… well… here it is:
Photo by ESPN Illustration
Alex Smith to the Cleveland Browns Makes Too Much Sense
posted by Andy Jardine
January 24th, 2013
Another off-season is underway for the Browns, equipped yet again with a reboot up top and a lingering quarterback question mark. For the first time in a long time, I believe the answer is clear on where to go with the signal caller question.
Following a somewhat disappointing season from first round QB Brandon Weeden, the 2013 draft appears to be the thinnest at QB that we’ve seen in many years. (Geno Smith, EJ Manual, holy shit boys I was actually right! – AJ 2018) I think it’s rather clear that the answer for the Browns is not waiting in the draft. Brandon showed plenty of promise and proved that another year or two to develop would be more promising than spending a first rounder on either of 2013’s top prospects, West Virginia’s Geno Smith or USC’s Matt Barklay.
(2018 Andy here again, OMG read this! LOLOLOL)
The answer is not who, it’s how. The best quarterback option for the Cleveland Browns will come via free agency or trade, it all depends on what the 49ers decide to do with Alex Smith. Yes, Alex Smith makes sense for the Cleveland Browns, and the Browns make sense for Smith. Here’s why:
(I compared their stats here in a table that got lost in retrieval – 2018 AJ)
Smith was everything Weeden wasn’t in 2012
What if a few more plays went Cleveland’s way? What if Joe Haden was not suspended? Just like last year, the Browns were in every single game. If the ball bounced their way a few more time, the Browns are easily 8-8 which probably would have saved Pat Shurmur’s job! (Hey, he’s the new Giants coach! – 2018 AJ)
The blame can be passed out across the entire team for not pulling through more often, but which player on the Cleveland Browns aside from Center Alex Mack touched the ball every single play?
The fact is, Brandon Weeden did not lose all of those games for the Browns, but he sure as hell didn’t win any of them either. When you are the most important man on the field, you absolutely have to make impact. Weeden had a half decent season in rookie standards, but a good season means you are the man going into training camp. Even if Shurmur stayed, there was no way he was inked in as the starter regardless of what Childress and coach were saying. I am not sold on Andy Dalton but I was sold enough to say he was the near future of the Bengals coming into 2012, I am not there with Weeden for 13. (The Red Rifle was more than the “near” future apparently. – 2018 AJ)
The issue with Weeden is simple. He lacks consistency, makes poor decisions, and did not get better as the season went on. well if you look at Alex Smith over the past several years, you can pretty much sum it up to the opposite. He’s consistently improved(per game average), throwing for more touchdowns, fewer interceptions, and a higher completion %. If you look at the oldest and most irrelevant QB stat out there (the passer rating), Smith is far superior. If you look at the revolutionary QB stat that is so new, that few people understand it yet (QBR), Smith is far superior. Fact is, Smith keeps getting better, more consistent, and makes good decisions.
(This is embarrassing… accurate, but embarrassing lol – 2018 AJ)
It’s easy to play the rookie card with Weeden and say that it’s of more value to give him time than to sign a higher priced guy who is too past his prime just to play the role of a bridge. Well is Smith really passed his prime? And is Weeden really that far ahead of his?
Alex Smith is 7 months younger than Brandon Weeden, and happens to have 7 MORE YEARS of NFL experience. The guy has had a rough ride but Brandon is spotting him all kinds of points here.
Weeden is a big, tall, and strong pocket QB with a monster arm. Well that monster arm got batted down by a league leading amount of defensive linemen and not one of them hit the sidelines afterwards cause it hurt… Alex smith is an inch taller, can move around in the pocket, can flat out run when he has to, and has an adequate NFL arm. If the Browns proved anything this year it’s that accuracy and good decision making outplay a cannon 10 times out of 10.
Hate to bring up the fact that Brandon Weeden was a rookie again, but it’s relevant here. The guy played the spread all through college and then spent his rookie season being force fed a west coast system that didn’t really shine light on all of his bright spots. Regardless of whether or not the Chud/Norv offense plays more to his strengths, he’s a second year Quarterback learning a bran new offense.
Smith on the other hand has had to deal with plenty of change in his 7 years. Prior to the Harbaugh era in SF, Alex had his best season in 2006 under new offensive coordinator (long time Chargers head coach) Norv Turner. He slumped the year after when there was a coaching change but managed to improve every year following. The fact/point is that Alex Smith has more knowledge and offensive information stored in his brain than Brandon had on his triple fold wrist band last year.
The Turner offense under which a young Smith excelled relied heavily on the run game and defense, and awarded a QB who could make smart decisions and be efficient. Well if there is an AFC North recipe for success out there, these ingredients are included. Trent Richardson, that offensive line, and the return of it’s position coach (Mike Sullivan) forms a great base for this type of attack.
How this works
For this idea to work to it’s max, there can be no camp battle. Cleveland has had enough of those. The fact of the matter is that Alex Smith is high profile and successful enough to be inked in as the starter upon signing. Please see Jake Delhomme’s year in Cleveland if you need a moment of clarity.
This must be made Alex Smith’s job to lose, not to win. Weeden can use the motivation, and is certainly an upgrade over McCoy at backup in a vertical passing system. The only thing Smith hasn’t had in his whole career is a coach, a team, and a city who 100% believes in him. That has to be the case in Cleveland for this to work. Will Alex Smith be the QB to lead the Browns to the Superbowl? Who the hell knows, but he’s more likely to do it than Brandon Weeden at this point. The most important thing is to create a culture of winning and this is the best chance to do that.
Joe Banner is way to stingy and controlling to trade anything of value for Alex Smith. That being said, I don’t think any team in the league is dumb enough to think that the 49ers would pay that much money to a backup QB when they appear set for the future. The Browns will wait it out for the release and sign Smith to a 2 year deal. Norv Turner will be the first thing out of Smith’s mouth when the local media asks him, why Cleveland?
(The Chiefs apparently were just as fond of Smith as I was, giving up 2 second rounders to get him. Will the Browns have to give up the same 5 years later?!?!?! – 2018 AJ)