Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Turns out, the experts were wrong on Weeden

First things first, a wise person once said.

And I take very seriously things that wise people say. One of the wisest people I ever knew was my mother.

Whenever I attended a banquet that featured haphazard seating arrangements and nobody knew which salad to eat (I am thinking now of a nameless chamber of commerce not far from here), there would be a din and a clamor, with people shouting, “Is this my salad or is it yours?” I would recall my mother’s advice:

“You eat from the left,” she said, “and you drink from the right.”

I would quote her to the other chamber members and everyone at the table would end up eating the proper salad.

I cannot vouch for what happened at the other tables. For all I know, they may still be arguing.

My mother would also say: “Well begun is half done.” I also accepted that as sage advice.

But let’s get back to “first things first.” The first thing I want to say here, before moving on to a topic of greater urgency, is to recall something I said in this space a week ago.

Sportswriters all over the area had a different approach than I, so I got to wondering if I could have been wrong, that my analysis of the situation could have been superficial.

What I wrote last week was: “Is there any legitimate reason why Brandon Weeden should ever, in his lifetime, ever start another game at quarterback for the Browns?”

Everyone else who commented on the situation said, “Give him another chance.”

The team cannot, they said, change horses in mid-stream. They can’t just bring in another quarterback and yank Weeden out. The team is solidly behind Weeden. They have his back and he has theirs. Don’t even think about changing quarterbacks.

Or, as Barry Byron was fond of saying, words of similar import.

My golly, I thought. Could I have been that wrong? Do I know nothing at all about quarterbacks? These guys are the experts. I never started a game at quarterback in my life.

All I had to go on was about 70 years of watching some pretty good quarterbacks play for the Browns, including 10 years of the incomparable Otto Everett Graham, the squire of Willoughby Hills (then Willoughby Township), plus guys like Frank Ryan, Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar.

Perhaps I was spoiled, but next to those guys, Brandon Weeden looked like Andy Gump.

Yet most everyone else was writing things like, “You can’t just change quarterbacks. Your other choice is just another backup quarterback. Let Weeden play.”

So the coaching staff, not a single one of which reads this column and thus is impervious to my advice (I did not say “to my wisdom” because that sounds imperious), let Weeden play last Sunday.

Ah yes, last Sunday. Did you hear about that game, against Green Bay? It was on television and was in all the papers.

That aroma emanating from Green Bay was the smell of the Browns, typified by the unique talents of Brandon Weeden, who made all those Cheeseheads in the stadium wonder if their headgear was made of Limberger.

Oh well. As I said, I know very little about football. But I have watched a few guys who knew quite a bit about football and about playing quarterback, and they knew a cover 2 from a manhole cover.

(You see, “cover 2” means... oh, never mind. Weeden probably doesn’t know what it is either.)

I wrote today’s piece last Monday, so I have no clue what has happened in the interregnum (I love fancy words).

Maybe changes are already in the wind. Maybe decisions have already been made. Maybe all the downtown quarterbacks (writers) who said you can’t ditch Weeden have now changed their collective minds and have agreed that it’s time to scour the sandlots and find another Johnny Unitas until Brian Hoyer recovers.

I haven’t yet watched my recording of Sam Rutigliano’s Sunday night program on Channel 5. It is on after my bedtime, so I am forced to DVR it for later viewing. Sam is my favorite expert on the quarterback crisis.

One more thing: I started out by saying “first things first” with the full intention of following up with a second thing.

But I have no space now for that second thing. It will have to wait a week or so.


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