Three quarterbacks. Three teams. Three losses. Cleveland Browns Brandon Weeden, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Josh Freeman or Minnesota Vikings Christian Ponder. Who gets benched and replaced first? All three struggled in their respective season opener, and all three have to considered to be on a short leash this year.
Cleveland Browns, Brandon Weeden– The Browns cleaned house this offseason with a new front office and coaching staff. Rookie head coach Rob Chudzinski likes to run the ball with a power run game and stretch the field with a deep vertical passing attack. Weeden is entering his second season with a new offensive coordinator, former San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner.
Weeden’s debut for the 2013 season resulted in less than stellar numbers. He attempted 53 passes, probably not what the Browns were hoping for. He averaged just 5.5 yards per attempt. Weeden did complete one touchdown pass, a nice throw to the corner of the endzone to TE Jordan Cameron, but that was the only highlight. He finished the day with a 48.4 passer rating while tossing three interceptions.
Waiting in the wings is veteran Jason Campbell. The rumor mill was on full spin this offseason with the browns being linked to Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. The Browns also grabbed Brian Hoyer as a free agent.
The Browns spent a lot of money in free agency and are going to want more consistency out of the quarterback position. Cleveland faces the 32nd and 29th ranked passing defense in the next two weeks traveling to Baltimore and Minnesota respectively. If Weeden continues with the turnovers, a change at quarterback will be blowing in the wind.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Josh Freeman. The Buccaneers declined to extend Freeman’s contract in the offseason so he is playing for next season and a contract. He has the most starting experience of the three quarterbacks but has battled with consistency issues for his entire career. The Buccaneers used a third round pick on Mike Glennon this past April.
Freeman had his moments on Sunday against the Jets, but for the most part was ineffective, completing less than 50% of his passes. Freeman also bobbled a snap in his endzone which wound up being a safety after he tried to kick the ball past the endline.
The Buccaneers could quickly find themselves 0-3 with games against the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots looming. If Freeman continues to under-perform, look for the Buccaneers to roll out the rookie after their week five bye.
Minnesota Vikings, Christian Ponder– Ponder was under center for the Vikings last season as they reached post-season play. Let’s be honest though, Adrian Peterson was the reason this team advanced, not Ponder’s arm. Against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Ponder tossed three interceptions and added a lost fumble.
In the offseason, Minnesota sought to upgrade the backup quarterback position. The abandoned the Joe Webb experiment and signed free agent Matt Cassel. Cassel has more starting experience than Ponder.
Minnesota has another early season divisional game looming this week against the Chicago Bears. Would not be surprised to see Ponder benched in this game if the poor play continues. If Cassel rallies the team for a win, a full blown quarterback controversy will be under way.