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The Suburbanite
  • Can Weeden mirror Flacco's success?

  • Both the Ravens and Browns used 16 starting quarterbacks in 12-year periods of inconsistency (Baltimore) and misery (Cleveland). The former Browns took off when they quit changing quarterbacks every year. Can the expanion-era Browns do that with Brandon Weeden?

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  • This is better done in chunks of five, so the paragraphs aren’t so long.
    In their first 12 years as the Baltimore Ravens, starting in 1996, the former Cleveland Browns used the following starting quarterbacks:
    Vinny Testaverde, Eric Zeier, Jim Harbaugh, Tony Banks ...
    Stoney Case, Scott Mitchell, Trent Dilfer, Elvis Grbac, Randall Cunningham ...
    Jeff Blake, Chris Redman, Kyle Boller, Anthony Wright, Steve McNair, Troy Smith ...
    Sorry. That last chunk totaled six.
    So, the ex-Browns used 16 starting quarterbacks in those dozen years. Their combined record, not coincidentally, was not good — 96-95-1.
    The winning percentage changed big-time after that 12-year yo-yo ride. It changed, one can argue, because the quarterback was always the same.
    For the last five years, Joe Flacco has been the Ravens’ only starting QB.
    Baltimore’s record with Flacco at quarterback, 61-30, is striking by comparison. It includes a 7-4 postseason mark after wins against the Colts and Broncos this month.
    From 1996-97, before Flacco, the Ravens never reached the postseason more than two straight years. They have done it five years in a row with him.
    He may not be the ideal quarterback. His career passer rating of 86.3 is miles behind Aaron Rodgers’ 104.9 and Tom Brady’s 96.6. On the other hand, he is better than what the Ravens have had. He is the best long-term quarterback the Browns-turned-Ravens have had since Bernie Kosar.
    Testaverde was OK at times in spanning the gap between Cleveland and Baltimore, but he reached the playoffs just once.
    Kosar and Flacco, on the other hand, both helped the Cleveland-turned-Baltimore franchise to AFC championship games in three of their first five seasons in the league. While Kosar and Flacco are 0-5 in their AFC finals already in the books, Flacco can go where Kosar never did, a Super Bowl, by beating Brady’s Patriots on Sunday.
    There is a lesson here, that quarterback problems are the worst kind a team can have. The expansion outfit that replaced “the old Browns” knows it so well.
    In the Browns’ first 12 years since coming back in 1999, their starting quarterbacks included (in chunks-of-five):
    Ty Detmer, Tim Couch, Doug Pederson, Spergon Wynn, Kelly Holcomb ...
    Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown, Dilfer, Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson ...
    Brady Quinn, Ken Dorsey, Bruce Gradkowski, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Colt McCoy ...
    Sorry. That last chunk was six, again.
    Enter Brandon Weeden.
    Weeden struggled as a rookie. He was no Flacco. It would be a big help to the Browns if he got there. Former team president Mike Holmgren saw potential for its happening, at least.
    The two were drafted in roughly the same place, Flacco at No. 18 overall in 2008, Weeden at No. 22 in 2012.
    Page 2 of 2 - They are close in age, Flacco being 28, Weeden 29.
    Browns owner Jimmy Haslam says one of new head coach Rob Chudzinski’s greatest strengths is developing quarterbacks. Here’s his chance to make the new boss look good.
    If Weeden can get to Flacco’s level soon, it would give the Browns an incredible advantage, in an important sense.
    Flacco can be a free agent after the season, and his agent, Joe Linta, is angling for general manager Ozzie Newsome to pay through the nose to keep him.
    “Joe’s a top-five, elite quarterback,” Linta told the Baltimore Sun on Monday.
    Whether the Ravens get Flacco to sign a long-term deal or tie him up for just one year as the franchise player, he would blow a hole in the salary cap. Franchise players make the average of the five highest-players at their position. That will exceed $15 million in 2013.
    Weeden’s contract, which extends through 2015, is worth a total of $8.1 million.
    Meanwhile, the cost of having a man who can end the vicious quarterback cycle is, as the Ravens have experienced and the Browns imagine, priceless.