Baylor’s offense has been bad. The offensive line has had terrible moments. And you can wonder about a play call or two. This is not exclusively a quarterback issue.
Quarterback is an issue though. Charlie Brewer has not been good enough. Before turning to that, let’s acknowledge his past.
Brewer played extremely well to the end the 2018 season. He capped off a good finish to his sophomore season by throwing for 384 yards and two touchdowns against Vanderbilt. He averaged a spectacular 11.3 yards per attempt in that bowl game.
Last year Brewer had plenty of wonderful moments, which led to a Big 12 title game appearance. Against Oklahoma State he threw for 312 yards. He averaged an unbelievable 18.4 yards per attempt. In one memorable sequence, Josh Fleeks was open down field, and Brewer made a perfect strike for a 64 yard touchdown.
There’s no case against Brewer’s toughness. Jalen Hurts from Oklahoma and Brewer are the two toughest quarterbacks I’ve ever seen. Either guy will fight for one extra yard. Brewer’s had concussions and shoulder injuries that would cause plenty of the toughest men to give the game up. He loves the game enough to keep playing.
The issue is apparent. Brewer’s not getting the job done in 2020. Maybe that changes. I’d love for Brewer to throw for 350 yards and drop two bombs against TCU on Saturday. But he hasn’t made a deep throw or a good throw to the field all season. Brewer’s arm always limited his ceiling. There’s a reason he was heading to SMU before a late offer from Matt Rhule. Plenty of people will spend their life wondering if they wasted their talent. Brewer shouldn’t. He’s maximized every ounce of talent he has. That he achieved what he has is a testament to his character and work ethic.
Again, there are protection issues, but the offensive line played pretty well against Texas. The Bears weren’t in 3rd and 15 situations. They had plenty of chances to throw more than short passes over the middle and to the boundary.
Maybe Brewer still remains the best QB. Gerry Bohanon or Jacob Zeno might be worse than 2020 Brewer. But it’s reasonable to wonder if either QB can do more than Brewer’s done. Bohanon was a 4-star QB and made an impressive touchdown throw against Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game. Zeno threw two ropes in the Big 12 title game and led Baylor to overtime. Each might be worse than Brewer, but it’s reasonable to wonder if their arm strength would give Baylor a different dimension. A Baylor offense that ranks 9th in the Big 12 in yards per pass, and that has a starting QB that’s 14th in the Big 12 in longest completed pass needs a spark.
It’s okay to take the opposite view. Benching Brewer or going to multiple QB’s introduces chaos. After the reports that Trestan Ebner and John Lovett were considering opting out for the remainder of the season, the Bears might not want to remove Brewer after he’s stayed through devastating injuries. The program might need to build for something more than this season. Maybe COVID-19 has hampered the offense so much that Brewer’s actually still got the arm but just doesn’t feel comfortable showing it off. Maybe with more time after COVID-19 hit the team he’ll be the QB he was in October of 2019 and not the QB he’s been in January, September and October of 2020.
The coaching staff also might be reluctant to pull Brewer because it’s hard to go back to him if Bohanon or Zeno play poorly. The Chicago Bears started Mitch Trubisky to being the season because once they went with Nick Foles, the Bears were unlikely to go back to the previous QB. Not playing the guy that’s been around for so long is a big decision. It’s wise to wait a little too long to make the move than go too quickly.
America and football are built on competition. Nobody is entitled to any role in society. The best one year may not be the best the next. Anthony Jones started as a sophomore on Baylor’s Elite Eight team. He started the next season as a junior. But despite being a two-year starter, he came off the bench as a senior because Quincy Miller was better than him. Jones wasn’t terrible, and neither is Brewer. But if someone can do your job better than you, they should take the job.
The idea Brewer deserves the position is a disservice to him. As an incredible competitor, Brewer should believe if he’s the QB it’s because he’s the best guy in 2020, not because he could complete incredible throws in 2019.
The other QB’s also have arguments they deserve a shot. Bohanon has not transferred despite being a 4-star QB that’s never started a game in his third season in the program. Zeno didn’t leave after playing a fantastic fourth quarter against Oklahoma. Someone that accepts the “deserved framework” could persuasively argue Bohanon or Zeno deserve the job. But real life isn’t about deserved. It’s about the neutral question: Who is the best quarterback right now?
Ironically for those that say Brewer’s entitled to the position, Brewer became Baylor’s starting QB by beating out an older player with more time in the program. As a freshman, Baylor played Brewer over Zach Smith to end 2017. If Baylor wanted to defer to experience, they’d never have given Brewer the chance to emerge as a freshman. Even as a sophomore, Brewer had to beat out an older Jalan McClendon to become the sole QB. The duo split snaps into October.
Fans and folks that watch Baylor football have the right to point these things out. Nobody is a bad fan or a hater for offering their honest opinion. Nobody needs to denigrate all Brewer’s accomplished to say that someone else might play QB better than him in 2020.
The important thing is to always offer an honest and informed opinion. I’m wrong constantly. I very well could be wrong about this one too. But when I come to the conclusion that someone else would do a better job at QB—which is the most important position in football—I’m going to offer my opinion. I’m paid and people read me because they want to hear my honest takes. I’d love to be wrong about this one too. But because I’ve looked at this in-depth and am firm in my belief, I’ll offer my view. I’m not going to spin that things are going well when they’re not.
Feel free to tell me my opinions are wrong. Lay out the case for why a QB change is a bad idea; tell me that Brewer is better than the alternatives. I’ll listen to that view. But don’t tell anybody this position is an attack on Baylor football or indicts all Brewer’s accomplished. It’s more than reasonable to think Bohanon or Zeno could do a better job. I’d love to see Brewer prove me wrong, but I think Bohanon or Zeno would prove me right.