Cleveland Browns: Alex Tanney

The Cleveland Browns will have to add some sort of veteran presence at quarterback by the end of the month.

That's because the Browns have a "voluntary" veteran minicamp from April 29-May 1. (As one veteran once said years ago, "voluntary" in the NFL means "you better be there.") The Browns need someone to throw passes, and coach Mike Pettine said Wednesday that Brian Hoyer, who is coming back from ACL surgery last October, probably would have limitations.

That leaves Alex Tanney as the sole quarterback on the roster, and Tanney simply can't make all the throws needed in a camp.

Whether the Browns add a permanent veteran to stay with the team, or someone just to be a "minicamp guy," they have to add someone.

"I don't think we're at the point yet where that decision has to be made," Pettine said. "I think it'll be made sooner than later. I think it'll be done around the time of the first camp."

If Hoyer is indeed the starter going into training camp, the decision to be made about his backup/competition is whether that will come from a veteran presence -- Rex Grossman's name has been bandied about quite often -- or a rookie via the draft.

Pettine said that decision has not been made yet either.
The Browns will be without guard John Greco and running back Willis McGahee in practice today.

Greco sprained his right medial collateral ligament on the first play of the game in New England when his foot caught in the turf. He tried to stay in the game, but was not effective. The Browns will see how his week goes, but it does not seem likely he will face Chicago on Sunday

Jason Pinkston replaced Greco in New England and would replace him against the Bears as well.

“We’ll see as we go along what his (Greco’s) status is,” coach Rob Chudzinski said.

McGahee suffered a concussion on a goal-line run in the fourth quarter. He was sent home Wednesday and must pass the NFL concussion protocols before returning. His return for Sunday seems very doubtful. The Browns signed Edwin Baker off the Houston practice squad.

Quarterback Brandon Weeden, meanhwhile, has been cleared to practice. Weeden has been sidelined since he received a concussion nine days ago against Jacksonville.

Chudzinski would not say whether Weeden or Alex Tanney would be the backup quarterback against the Bears.

“There’s some things that Brandon has to clear this week,” Chudzinski said.

Browns turn to Campbell ... again

December, 6, 2013
Jason Campbell gave the Cleveland Browns two starts this season, two days of practice this week and seven years of mostly uninspired play coming into 2013.

It was enough for the team to make Campbell the starter for Sunday's game in New England against the Patriots.

That's where the Browns are at the quarterback position, ready to send up fireworks when a guy who struggled his last two games after splitting his previous two was back on the field. Campbell's return does mean the Browns don't have to face Bill Belichick's defense with completely untested Alex Tanney or relatively untested Caleb Hanie.

Which is something.

Campbell spoke to the media for the first time since he was hit in the head by William Gay of the Steelers in the Browns' Nov. 24 loss to Pittsburgh. He said the hit to the head caused the injury, but he did not think the play was dirty.

"He was coming in trying to hit me, and I think when I saw him at the last minute I kind of ducked down a little bit and that's when he hit me right across the face," Campbell said. "I don't think it was a dirty hit. I don't think he was trying to do it. It was just right in the middle of the action of the play."

Campbell said his symptoms included dizziness, being light-headed and an inability to look at glaring lights.

"I was quarantined for a little bit," he said.

The Auburn product was able to watch the school's win over Alabama in the Iron Bowl. He said he felt by Wednesday that he was confident he would play.

"[It's] probably the best I've felt since I had a chance to play," Campbell said.

He also admitted his injured ribs sent him to the sidelines in the Pittsburgh loss, and that he was in significant pain in the loss to Cincinnati.

The team said the ribs were not broken, so what was wrong?

"Just hurting," Campbell said.

The week of practice had the Browns scratching their heads and wondering if they would be facing the Patriots with one hand tied behind their back.

Campbell said he couldn't even try to do anything until he was symptom free, and that didn't happen until Monday.

But in a big way the Browns really only have themselves to thank for it.

It was the Browns, after all, who put Colt McCoy back into the game with a concussion after James Harrison's vicious and late hit in Pittsburgh in 2011.
Norv Turner probably thought he had seen it all when his starting quarterback in Washington, Gus Frerotte, sprained his neck by head-butting a wall after a touchdown.

But in this, his first season as the Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator, Turner has dealt with a lot of unusual situations.

He’s used a different word each week for some element of the Browns' offense.

He’s discussed the run game as something that needs to be managed, and said the situation with the backs he has has been different.

Now he’s talking about not knowing the Browns quarterback with a game three days away.

“It’s a challenge,” Turner said.

That’s one word for it.

If Jason Campbell does not recover in time for Sunday’s game, the Browns appear headed to starting either Alex Tanney or Caleb Hanie, neither of whom have been with the team two weeks.

Either way the Browns could be making their fifth quarterback change this season, and perhaps starting their fourth different quarterback.

“There’s a lot of firsts for us this year,” Turner said.

Which kind of sums up the season. The last time the Browns went through four quarterbacks in a season was 2008, when Ken Dorsey played the final three games and Bruce Gradkowski was brought in off the street to start the finale. Gradkowski’s rating in that game: 2.8.

Now Turner works with the Tanney-Hanie combination.

“It’s a challenge,” Turner said. “But it’s not as hard on the coaches as it is on the players.”

Because players have to adjust to different throwing styles, different cadences, different feels from different passers.

If Campbell is back, there is at least some familiarity.

But if he isn’t, well ...

First and 10: Tanney and Hanie time?

December, 3, 2013
As the Browns stumble to the finish line, we present yet another First and 10:
  1. So it’s come to this. The Browns have two concussed quarterbacks, and they signed Caleb Hanie this morning, a guy they didn’t sign a week ago because they signed Alex Tanney. Neither have played a down for the Browns. Hanie has 116 career passes, three touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Tanney has never thrown a pass in his pro career, though he can hit a moving truck pretty well.
  2. Nothing is certain at this point. The Browns are hunkered down on “game plan day,” so they’re not releasing anything on the medical condition of Brandon Weeden or Jason Campbell except to say both have to be cleared by an independent doctor before they can practice. But the mere fact they signed Hanie indicates there is doubt, which makes Tanney-Hanie a clear possibility in New England on Sunday.
  3. Tanney-Hanie (potentially) against Bill Belichick. And Tom Brady. Wonder who gets the edge in the weekly matchup list. Yes ... it has come to this.
  4. Even if Weeden and Campbell are cleared, there’s always doubts about a guy returning from a concussion. Especially a quarterback who has to make fast decisions with a lot flying around him. A guy recently concussed might have issues with that part of the game.
  5. It’s reminiscent of Troy Aikman many years ago landing on his head for Dallas in the Championship Game against San Francisco. That’s the game Bernie Kosar finished the year he was cut by the Browns. Two weeks later, Aikman said he was fine, but he was not his usual self in the Super Bowl. The next season he admitted the effects from the concussions lingered.
  6. This quarterback situation is reminiscent of 2008, when Romeo Crennel had to start Ken Dorsey and Bruce Gradkowski in the final few games. It didn’t go well.
  7. Weeden had an absolutely awful final 2:30 of the first half, but let’s not junk the rest of his game because of two minutes. The turnovers count, they absolutely count, but at game’s end he had 370 yards and three touchdown -- which by most measures is a pretty good game. The turnovers were bad, though, so if a grade were forced it’d be a C-minus.
  8. Nobody can say Browns fans don’t have a great sense of humor. The latest example: A series of Cleveland Browns Christmas carols from an angry Browns fan on YouTube. It’s appropriate, and appropriately funny. My favorite: “Way up in your box Jimmy H ... Do you see what I see?”
  9. In my day, Browns Christmas Carols were a lot more fun. Like the Twelve Days of a Cleveland Browns Christmas. “Dave Logan leaping ... Brian Sipe a-passing.” Shame those days were, oh, 30 years ago.
  10. The Tanney-Hanie act. Say it out loud. Again. Got it? Now admit it -- it really sounds more like a law Congress passed in the 1840s, doesn’t it?

Browns have to wonder: Now what?

December, 1, 2013
The quarterback who would have started missed the loss because of a concussion.

The quarterback who did start was diagnosed after the loss with a concussion.

The wide receiver who became the first player in NFL history with more than 200 yards receiving in consecutive games lost both games.

[+] EnlargeRob Chudzinski
Jason Miller/Getty ImagesRob Chudzinski's Browns are left looking for answers after their sixth loss in seven games.
And the cornerback who has been the team’s standout and stalwart was a bundle of emotions after the game.

Even coach Rob Chudzinski broke from his usual flat-lining self to show some emotion.

This is what happens when a team loses at home to a team ranked 32nd in the league in a large handful of offensive categories.

This is the Cleveland Browns, who have to wonder where they go next.

And the first place to wonder is at quarterback, where Brandon Weeden threw for 370 yards and then missed postgame interviews after being diagnosed with a concussion. Weeden was briefly at his locker after the game, but reported concussion symptoms to the trainers.

Jason Campbell already is sidelined after a hit to the head (which wasn't flagged), and his prognosis is unknown. If Weeden is out, the Browns could well go to New England and face Tom Brady with Alex Tanney at quarterback. And if Weeden and Campbell can’t play, they’ll have to face the Patriots with two quarterbacks who have been on the team less than two weeks (assuming they sign another).

Good luck.

But just as big a concern is the Browns' emotional state after such a staggering defeat. The Browns got nearly 400 yards from their quarterback, a 261-yard game from receiver Josh Gordon and four times held the lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Yet, they lost.

To a quarterback who before the game had four touchdown passes, but threw two in beating Cleveland.

Emotions were raw. Safety Tashaun Gipson called the loss a 10 on a 1-to-10 scale, and safety T.J. Ward said folks could blame anyone they wanted for this one. Indeed, there were so many gaffes.

Weeden accounted for three turnovers in the final 2:47 of the first half. Center Alex Mack had the first bad snap anyone could remember, giving the Jaguars a safety. The defense made Chad Henne look like Tom Brady. And Joe Haden, who has been so good and so responsible, got beat for the game-winning touchdown. The defense allowed 137 yards in the fourth quarter, and the offense’s turnovers and a safety led to 15 Jacksonville points.

It’s nearly incomprehensible to think that three weeks ago people actually considered the Browns a playoff contender. Now they resemble an old jalopy lurching down a rutted dirt road.

Three of their final four games are on the road.

Three of the four opponents have their playoff hopes alive.

The Browns built their playoff “hopes” on one win in the past seven games.

It borders on the incredulous.

After this loss, the Browns are an emotional wreck, and they're heading the wrong way in that beat-up old jalopy.
Brandon Weeden was back in the interview circle today, explaining again how he tunes out criticism, he’s still confident and he doesn’t listen to external noise.

“I don’t need 5-year-old kids telling me how to play the quarterback position,” Weeden said after being named the starter for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville.

That statement referred to getting off Twitter “and all that junk.” It’s not known if any 5-year-olds are on Twitter, but the point is clear: Weeden is trying not to listen to what people are saying about him.

Problem is once he steps on the field he can’t help but hear it, because he’s been greeted -- at home -- by loud and pointed booing.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Weeden
Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY SportsBrandon Weeden will get another chance to start at quarterback for the Browns.
Weeden has become the lightning rod for fan frustration of the past 14 years.

He is the guy who didn’t expect to be a first-round draft pick but was taken there anyway, the guy who played fairly well as a rookie the first half of the season, but a guy who has regressed since.

He’s lost his job once to injury and once to performance.

Sunday, for the third time this season, he gets another chance.

It’s hard not to think it won’t be like the first two times. Even Weeden seemed to imply he understands his ship is about to leave the Cleveland port.

“I’m a Cleveland Brown,” he said. “I think for the next five weeks, I’m a Cleveland Brown. After that, whatever happens is out of my control. I’m excited. This is one of the best teams I’ve ever been on as far as just the group of guys in this locker room, the atmosphere we have going on, the friendships we have and the camaraderie. It’s great. I’m going to enjoy every minute of it as long as I’m here, and then if they tell me to beat it, then we’ll see.”

Fan frustration comes because of performance. The Browns are 0-4 in his starts, and he ranks 34th in the league in yards per attempt, 33rd in passer rating, 31st in yards per game and 34th in completion percentage -- a woeful 51.5 percent.

The Browns figure to have Weeden and newly acquired Alex Tanney (off Dallas’ practice squad) available on Sunday while Jason Campbell recovers from a concussion.

Which means the Browns have a guy who’s barely completed more than 50 percent and a guy who hasn’t been with the team until today.

The silver lining is the opponent -- Jacksonville is giving up 29.5 points per game, 30th in the league.

Which also makes the consequence of a third straight loss that much more significant.

If Weeden can’t beat the Jaguars, what’s happened to this point will seem like a trip to the zoo.

The switch from Campbell to Weeden is the fourth time this season the Browns have switched starting quarterbacks. They started with Weeden, went to Brian Hoyer, went back to Weeden, went to Jason Campbell and now out of necessity are going to Weeden.

If Tanney ever starts a game -- and the way this season is going, why wouldn’t he? -- the Browns will match the four they used in 2008, another dismal season that ended with Ken Dorsey and Bruce Gradkowski under center.

“It’s not easy,” coach Rob Chudzinski said. “And it’s not ideal. But it is what it is right now.”

That the Browns have four wins with all this quarterback shuffle going on is downright amazing. But that they go into a game with a starter whom few seem to have confidence in is concerning.

This may be the first time fans hopes for a guy signed on Tuesday are higher than they are for a former first-round draft pick.

New QB known for his 'trick shots'

November, 26, 2013
The Cleveland Browns have added a quarterback, and a “trick shot” quarterback at that.

The team confirmed the quarterback's "news release," as former Cowboys practice squad player Alex Tanney posted on Twitter that he was joining the Browns today:
"Thankful for everything the Jones family and Dallas staff has done for me. Great organization. New chapter starts in Cleveland today#Browns"

The Browns confirmed the move on Tanney in the afternoon.

Tanney is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, and he played collegiately for Fighting Scots of Monmouth College.

But he may be best known for this YouTube video in which he throws passes that hit small targets. The video calls Tanney a “trick shot quarterback.”

OK then.

Tanney impressed the Cowboys enough in preseason to earn a practice-squad spot. He played the preseason finale and was sacked seven times while throwing for 177 yards. He spent 2012 on injured reserve with the Chiefs.

At Monmouth, Tanney was a prolific passer. He set records for single-season touchdowns with 50, and his 157 touchdowns as a college player are an all-time NCAA mark.

Tanney’s addition indicates that Jason Campbell probably will miss Sunday’s game against Jacksonville with a concussion.

It appears Brandon Weeden will start, with Tanney the backup.