Browns fans know that, on the rare occasions when they’ve gotten high-level quarterback play during the most recent incarnation of the franchise, the performances have come from players who weren’t worried about losing their jobs.
The best — and worst — example came in 2007, and then in 2008. When Derek Anderson inherited the job after Week One starter Charlie Frye promptly was traded following Week One, Anderson and everyone else assumed he was keeping the seat warm for first-rounder Brady Quinn, who wasn’t ready to take over due to a holdout fueled by his perception that he should have been drafted higher in round one than he was. So Anderson was loose and unworried about losing the job, because he knew he eventually would.
And as we’ve heard Ron Jaworski (and other experts) explain it over the years, a quarterback not worried about losing his job plays with a confidence that allows him not to obsess over each mistake, wondering whether the next one will be the last.
By 2008, when Anderson suddenly had something to lose, he played like it. And he did.
Current starter Brandon Weeden, whose less than four months younger than Anderson, is trying to play like a guy who has nothing to lose.
“[A]t this position – which, to me, is the hardest position in sports – you can’t be looking over your shoulder all the time,” Weeden tells Vic Carucci of ClevelandBrowns.com. “You’ve got to worry about what’s most important, and that’s me getting better, building on what I did last year, and continue to grow as a player. And, if I can do that, and not really worry about what’s going on around me, and kind of have that tunnel vision, that’s going to make me a better player and that’s going to make this team better.”
What’s going on around him is that Colt McCoy has been shipped to San Francisco and veteran Jason Campbell has been brought in to compete with Weeden. If Weeden worries too much about Campbell, Weeden will grip the ball a little too tightly and wait a little too long to pull the trigger for fear of screwing up, because enough screw ups will result in no screw ups because he won’t be playing.
So while Weeden is wisely saying the right things, telling himself not to worry about what’s going on around him could virtually guarantee that he’ll worry about what’s going on around him. Which could mean he’ll make enough mistakes to eventually open the door for Campbell.