The Morning Kickoff …
2013 in review: Another in a periodic series reviewing the Browns’ season of 4-12.
I’ve chronicled 27 Browns seasons – every one since 1984 – and each one has ended with questions unanswered.
Getting honest, forthright answers from Browns coaches, GMs, presidents, CEOs and owners historically has been an exercise in futility. No matter the regime or who’s in charge, the franchise always has gone to great lengths to avoid simple answers to simple questions. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.
The best thing about this doctrine of duplicity is that it provides an annual column recalling the season’s great mysteries. This season was no exception.
1. So why didn’t they care to re-sign Phil Dawson?
The ridiculous tap-dancing around this question actually resulted in a rather heated confrontation between a reporter (not me, no names please) and two Browns officials at NFL owners meetings in March. This issue needlessly polarized the fan base. Fans siding with the Browns believed that Dawson simply didn’t want to come back and management protected him by concealing that fact. Dawson’s refusal to answer the question fed that theory, which was untrue. All’s well that ends well. Dawson’s replacement, Billy Cundiff, had an uneventful season, helping to defuse the controversy. And Dawson enjoyed a career year, finishing with the second-most points and field goals in San Francisco 49ers history and kicking the winning field goal in the team’s wild card playoff victory over Green Bay on Sunday.
2. Why did the coaches enter the season with a QB depth chart of 1. Brandon Weeden, 2. Jason Campbell, and 3. Brian Hoyer?
From the first offseason practice, Weeden took the snaps with the No. 1 team and Campbell was No. 2. When Hoyer arrived on May 16, he was appointed No. 3. It stayed that way through the spring camps, through training camp and through the preseason. Then when Weeden suffered a sprained thumb in Game 2, Hoyer was named the starter ahead of Campbell by coach Rob Chudzinski. The perception was that this decision was ordered by the front office, which favored Hoyer. True or not, the handling of the quarterbacks was a major reason Chudzinski and his staff were abruptly fired the day after the season ended. In only three starts – he was knocked out with a torn ACL in the first quarter of the third – Hoyer’s two wins stood as the most among the three QBs.
The Morning Kickoff …