QB Questions Just Status Quo For Browns

Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson

As summer drags on, with baseball winding down and basketball still a couple months away, all eyes in Cleveland are focused on the Browns. We follow training camp, and try to decipher how the team looks when scrimmaging and performing drills against themselves. We watch meaningless preseason games with much anticipation and scrutiny. As football fans, it’s what we do.

For fans of the Cleveland Browns, though, preseason usually means a little more to us than most fans of other teams. The reason for this is that almost every season since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999 they have been indecisive in terms of naming a starter at QB and as a result they have brought out the banality in QB competitions.

While most teams have named their starter by now, and are giving that guy significant reps with the first team offense to make sure everyone is on the same page and a sense of chemistry is being found, the Browns continuously toil in indecision and insecurity when it comes to the most important position in the NFL. By the time the Browns name their starter in most seasons, that player is already behind most teams and when the season opens, while other QBs are already comfortable and know their place in the offense, the Browns QBs are routinely just trying to get settled in.  

This isn’t a Mangini/Kokinis issue, per se. I mean, don’t get me wrong, in my opinion Mangini isn’t doing the team any favors by dragging his feet, but he certainly wants to make sure he gets this right. This issue is bigger than the current regime. It has plagued this franchise for most of 11 years now.

The Tim Couch Era

If you remember 1999, the Browns drafted Tim Couch to be the leader of the new franchise. Rookie head coach Chris Palmer and rookie GM Dwight Clark both seemed to agree that Couch would benefit from watching from the sidelines to begin the season, and thus Ty Detmer, who was signed to be Couch’s mentor, was given the starting nod. However, after a disastrous 43-0 shelling by the Steelers at home to open the season, Palmer panicked and threw Couch to the wolves. Couch ended up starting 14 games that season, and despite the 2-14 record, Browns fans hoped Couch could chalk it up to a learning situation.

Heading into 2000, everyone was looking for steps in the right direction and continued improvement and learning. Couch was now entrenched as the starter, but injuries would derail the Browns season. Doug Pederson would end up starting the most games for the Browns that year, with 8 starts to just 7 for Couch. The 3-13 season wasn’t the kind of improvement Browns fans were hoping for, but with so many injuries, most Browns fans hoped it was just a fluke season.

Regardless, the Browns fired Palmer and brought in another rookie head coach in Butch Davis. Despite the fact he hadn’t been a head coach in the NFL before, Davis had a highly successful pedigree both as an assistant in Dallas under Jimmy Johnson when the Cowboys dynasty was in tact, and also as a head coach where he rejuvenated and brought the sleeping giant Miami Hurricane program back to life. Davis brought a sense of urgency and legitimacy to the Browns and the 2001 season was precisely what the franchise needed. Tim Couch came into camp as the undisputed starter and started all 16 games that year. The Browns jumped from 3-13 the previous year to 7-9.

In 2002, Tim Couch was still the starter of the Browns and he would start 14 games that year, going 8-6 in those games and would lead the Browns into the playoffs for the first time since their return. However, an injury in the last game of the season would ensure that Kelly Holcomb would start the Wild Card game against Pittsburgh, and we all know what happened next. Holcomb had a game for the ages, throwing for 429 yards and 3 TDs. The Browns lost that game anyway, and in retrospect, Holcomb’s performance might have been one of the worst things to happen to the new franchise.

The Kelly Holcomb Era

As a result of Holcomb’s output in the playoff game, 2003 opened with a QB competition, and essentially the Browns would spend the entire season split between two QBs. Both Couch and Holcomb would start 8 games each that year. Holcomb went 2-6 and Couch went 3-5, and the Browns as a franchise took an enormous step backward as they fell to 5-11 in disappointing fashion.

The Jeff Garcia Era

In 2004, the Browns, concerned about elbow issues and inconsistent play, shipped out Tim Couch and brought in Jeff Garcia. Garcia was a former Pro Bowl QB and the Browns hoped to finally re-establish a leader at QB. Garcia would start in 10 games, play mediocre at best, and would be injured the rest of the time. Luke McCown got 4 starts, and went 0-4 in those games. Kelly Holcomb was battling injuries himself and would start only 2 games and play sparingly. The season was a disaster and Butch Davis quit on the team after 10 games. The team wound up 4-12 for the season.

The Trent Dilfer Era

For 2005, Browns owner cleaned house in the front office and brought in Phil Savage to be the GM and rookie head coach Romeo Crennel was hired to try to recapture Bill Belichick’s magic from New England. With Jeff Garcia removed from the roster, the Browns brought in veteran Trent Dilfer and drafted University of Akron’s Charlie Frye. There wasn’t exactly a QB competition in camp, but the Browns were hoping Dilfer could essentially hold down the fort until they could see if Frye was ready/able to be a starting QB. As it would happen, injuries and inconsistency would continue to be the theme, and Dilfer would start 11 games, with Frye starting the other 5, and both would struggle as the Browns limped through another frustrating season, ending up at 6-10.

The Charlie Frye Era

2006 would see more turnover at the QB position. For the 2nd year in a row the Browns got rid of the QB who just 1 year prior was brought in to stabilize the position. With Dilfer gone, the job was now Charlie Frye’s, but the Browns also picked up Derek Anderson when Baltimore was forced to cut him. Frye would start 13 games that year, which seemed like an improvement in stability for the franchise, but Frye still went just 4-9 in those 13 games and threw just 10 TDs to 17 INTs. DA would go 0-3 in the 3 games he started and once again the Browns found themselves far under .500 for the season with a 4-12 record.

The Derek Anderson Era

2007 came and the Browns seemingly had a 3-way QB competition between Frye, Anderson, and new draft pick Brady Quinn. Quinn would hold out, though, and thus cost himself any real chance at the job. The competition came down to Frye and Anderson again, and you wouldn’t really say that Frye won the job, but more realistically DA lost the competition. Regardless, Frye started the first game, got annihilated by the Steelers, and the next day Frye was traded to Seattle and the job was DA’s. Shockingly, DA went on to a 10-5 record and the Browns thus finished 10-6 on the season but amazingly missed the playoffs.

2008 brought great optimism, but we all remember what happened. DA continued to be reckless with the ball, throwing bad interception after bad interception, but this time the breaks weren’t going the Browns way. Joe Jurevicius was hurt all season, the offensive line was substantially worse, and when DA managed to throw the ball to Braylon Edwards rather than the opposing team, Edwards would drop the ball anyway. DA had a million excuses for why he wasn’t playing well, but the fact is he showed that despite his cannon of an arm, until he could portray not just leadership, but precise decision making abilities as well as an understanding of the importance of not taking unnecessary risks when throwing the football, he simply isn’t ready to be an NFL starting QB. DA went 3-6 in the 9 games he started. Brady Quinn would start just 3 games before injuries ended his year. Ken Dorsey and Bruce Gradkowski would get the starts in the remainder of the games, and the Browns finished 4-12 and Romeo Crennel would be fired.

The Brady Quinn Era?

Which brings us to 2009. The Browns entered into training camp with yet another QB competition on their hands. It’s a lot more understandable for the Mangini regime to need a QB competition to make sure they get the right guy. All Browns fans want the same thing…..we want the best QB to be starting. But what hurts the Browns as an organization is this legacy of QB competitions and the revolving door of starters within a year. The Browns have played 10 seasons since they’ve been back. That’s an entire decade. And in that decade, only once have they had the same QB start all 16 games.

This legacy is unforgivable and it needs to stop sooner rather than later. If Mangini and Kokinis don’t think Brady Quinn is able to handle the job, then next year they better make a move to find someone who is. The one thing we know for sure is that Derek Anderson is a quality backup QB to have, but he’s just not the type of QB who wins games for you as a starter. Which leads me to believe that Mangini truly wanted the job to be Quinn’s, but of course he wanted Quinn to earn.

So here we are, week 3 of the preseason, and still no QB. Until this franchise can establish a leader at that position, we will continue to see year after year of sub 500 play with the occasional 9-7 or 10-6 season to make us think there is improvement. I hope as much as the next guy that Brady Quinn can be that guy, but to this point, as close as he has come to reaching out and grabbing the starting job, the fact remains that he has failed to do so. There are no obstacles in his way other than himself. The job is his if he wants it, I truly believe this. This next preseason game will be an interesting one, as we wait and see if someone is able to finally grab a hold of the starting job and secure it as their own. Unless that happens very soon, we’re in for another very long 4-12 type season.

(Image courtesy of Newscom)

  • New Guy

    Good analysis, even though it ruined my lunch.

  • DK

    the schedule lends itself to a 6-7 win team…regardless of which QB plays…if they only win 4 games with the schedule they have, they need to reassess what they have and continue to revamp the roster…

    I see them going 6-10 or 7-9…they dont have the depth you’d like to see, so if a big piece goes down (Rogers, or Thomas) we are pretty well screwed…

  • biff

    This team absolutely won’t be able to score if they’re letting Jamal Lewis stutter step and fall into the line for 2 yards on every running play. I know as fans, we’re generally predisposed to wanting the younger legs in there without considering things like blitz pickups, turnovers, mental mistakes, etc…but as I see it, allowing Jamal Lewis to do anything more than spell Davis and Harrison amounts to outright forfeiture. Call me a skeptic but I Just don’t see Quinn or Anderson converting a series of 3rd and longs to keep drives alive. The Browns have to see what they’ve got in the two younger backs. Entrusting the running game to a corpse will be a disaster.

  • Chris M

    I didnt hear it myself, but a friend of mine was saying Matt Berry ( ESPN ) predicted 1400yds / 8-10 TD’s for Lewis this year. I’m not exactly sure how he formulated that from 3 yds and a cloud of dust, but they will probably run the ever loving stuff out of the ball this year if Mangini plays his game.

  • bobby

    Chris, I heard the same thing and I still can’t understand why he thinks that. Maybe Berry is buying into this power running thing, but Pluto was right on in his article yesterday saying that Jamal only got running when the passing game was used to spread out the defense.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    @ bobby – it’s much easier to gain yards by stutter-stepping when the defense is spread out.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com DP Diesel

    Spergeon Wynn is angry that he was not mentioned in this piece!

  • bobby

    Im not trying to argue what Chris said, because spreading out the D would help any RB, including Davis and Harrison. I was mainly saying I don’t think the Browns will be able to have this power running game. The line hasn’t been pushing the defense like they should.

  • ben

    I just like to contrast the articles about Sanchez’s debut to the articles about the Browns QB battle. The sense I’ve gotten out of NY is that they are content to take some lumps and just want to get their franchise QB up and rollin’.

    Sometimes, I wish we had taken that approach to Quinn. I know it would have been insane to suggest starting him after DA’s 2007 campaign, but it would save us the constant, ludicrous analysis of practices, every single snap, etc.

    In fact, it seems something we’ve done since Couch. We, as fans and as a franchise, don’t seem content to simply HAVE a starting QB. You can argue it’s b/c we have never had someone with the talent to be a starting QB in this league. But I also think it’s fair to suggest that we’ve never taken the time to actually develop a starting QB and a team around that QB.

  • mgbode

    Mangini did the same thing with the Jets in ’06 (Penny beat out Ramsey and Clemens)….Jets go 10-6

    Browns did same thing in 2007 with Frye and Anderson…Frye even “won” the job for the first 2 quarters…..Browns go 10-6

    2008 was the Cardinals turn to not name a QB until the last preseason week between Leinart and Warner….Cardinals only go 9-7, but make up for it by coming within 2 minutes of a Superbowl win.

    so, don’t sweat the QB competition….it shouldn’t affect the season all that much. we either have a team good enough to win, or we don’t.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    mgbode wins today’s comment of the day. Excellent points.

  • ELOCK

    ah, nothing like some good old “it seemed like it” observations. So, 8 INTs in 9 1/2 games is “interception after interception.” In the five games before D.A. was benched in favor of Quinn to appease Browns fans drunk on Quinn, D.A. had thrown 7 TDs and 2 INTs.

    Interception after interception. I tell you. Boy, they just wouldn’t stop. What a joke.

  • ELOCK

    Quinn’s obstacle is D.A., who is a better QB than Quinn. It’s simple, really. Sorry.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com RockKing

    @ mgbode: as I said, this really isn’t about just this year. This year I understand why there’s a competition. The point of the article was that it’s kind of ridiculous that this franchise has qb questions year after year after year.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com RockKing

    But just for the record, are you saying that the Browns are going to have a winning record this year?

  • MrCleaveland

    Mangini is committing coaching malpractice. He should have announced that Quinn is the starter last Sunday and started giving him all the first-team reps. Stringing along Anderson is hurting the team.

    Yeah, in this particular case, I DO know more that the coach. So do A LOT of people.

  • scotty p

    i still am blown away that the organization spent 2 full training camps molding Charlie and then found some turd team to take him in a trade the following day of the worst game of his career.

  • bobby

    Mr. Cleaveland.. are you going to admit your wrong if DA starts because he performs better then Quinn in these next 2 games. Looking at Grossi’s camp wrap-up today, seems like DA is playing well where as Quinn might be folding under pressure. Im not trying to predict anything right now, but ignorant statements like, “Yeah, in this particular case, I DO know more that the coach. So do A LOT of people.” are really annoying. If Quinn fails will you be declaring Ratty is the solution to the franchise?

  • MrCleaveland

    bobby,

    If DA starts, I will have no reason to admit I’m wrong because I’m NOT wrong. Mangini will be wrong. It’s that simple.

    DA is backup who had 12 good games once. He can’t think for himself. When headsets go out, he’s lost. He falls apart under pressure. He’s a robo-arm, not a football player.

    Quinn is a football player.

  • bobby

    Thats why Quinn is showing that hes better then DA right now. Oh wait…

    10-16, 98 yards, 1 INT (No points on any drives)

    8-15, 130 yards, 2 INTs (3 scoring drives, 2 FGs, 1 TD, all against 1st teamers).

    Your right, Quinn is obviously better. How could I be mistaken. DA had a good 12 games once. That makes so much sense (sarcasm font). Holcomb had ONE good game and everyone hopped on his band wagon. Ill steal a stat from ELOCK about DA in his last 5 games last season- 7 TDs, 2 INTs. Thats luck right? No, Im sorry, your smarter then the WHOLE browns staff, along with many football experts and ESPN employees, and some of the PD writers. what a joke.

  • lonelycaterpillar

    Quinn can think on his feet.
    DA takes orders.

    Quinn doesn’t have to force plays because he is flexible and uses his head.
    DA lays out his recievers due to his inability to make quick decisions and trying to force plays to unfold as written.

    Quinn may not have a rocket arm but there is much to be said about his accuracy and making catchable throws.
    DA can throw the ball hard, far and long.

    Quinn has the pedigree.
    DA had one fluke season.

    Quinn is the future of the Browns organization. All that’s left is for the organization to get behind him as the fans and the city already have. I love and underdog just as much as the next guy, but DA doesn’t have what it takes. The Browns are underdogs enough without him.

  • JK

    If Jamal has 1400 yards and 8-10 TDs we’ll win 12 games. That being said, there’s no way that happens.

  • MrCleaveland

    @ bobby

    Well, bobby, on this issue at least, I AM smarter than the WHOLE Browns staff, along with many football experts and ESPN employees, and some of the PD writers. Me and A LOT of other people are.

  • bobby

    I forgot, you must be watching video with the team, in on their meetings, and out at practice everyday. WHAT A JOKE! go back to the PD website to post comments like that. I’ve said this for a while, let Quinn PROVE he is better, but he has not to date. Read what comes out of practices and preseason games for once, because you can’t be watching them all. look at this competition without bias for once, and just see that neither QB to date has stepped up to take the job. but no, your probably too smart for that…

  • MrCleaveland

    We already know what we have with Anderson, and what we have with Anderson is not good, for all the reasons that me and others have repeatedly explained.

    If Anderson gets the job, there is really no point in caring anymore.

  • http://gooddoctorzeus.blogspot.com DocZeus

    Good lord, what has Brady Quinn done to instill confidence in anybody. He was an above-average college quarterback playing for the first half decent Notre Dame team in ten years and that suddenly made him an elite pro prospect.

    Unlike the Savage/Crennel regime, Mangini has no stake in whether or not, Brady Quinn becomes the starting quarterback of this team. He didn’t draft him and didn’t pay him million of dollars on promise. So he’s not gonna feel that his job is on the line if Quinn fails. Which makes him objective.

    Unlike all of us, who hate DA for simply not being Brady Quinn.

  • aallgod

    I laugh at comments like “Quinn has the pedigree.” and “Quinn doesn’t have to force plays because he is flexible and uses his head.” and “Quinn can think on his feet.”

    Know why I do?

    Because the dude has started 3 NFL games. Three.

    None of these statements above have been proven to be anything but pro-Quinn drivel. The only effective argument anyone can use for being pro-Quinn right now is “The dude never got a real shot yet.”

    Well, alright… here’s his shot, Browns fans… I would like for him to show me what he can do in preseason. And guess what? He isn’t really showing us much of anything in terms of points accumulated, improved accuracy over DA (at any range), lower frequency of interceptions, or more efficieny in the redzone. I’m sorry everyone, but I don’t see Quinn as being an improvement over DA.

    In the case that Quinn does not impress, you keep DA in so you don’t have to pay Quinn in incentives. From a financial perspective, that is the smartest move for the team right now.

    It’s cool if you have a favorite QB that you want to root for, but don’t go around making up flat-out preposterous statements about a guy who hasn’t really had any experience in the NFL yet.

  • MrCleaveland

    The reason that Quinn doesn’t have any experience is that Crennell is a bonehead.

  • ArtVandelay

    Although I personally prefer Quinn’s style of “noodle arm game manager” to DA’s “gunslinger bonehead” I believe DA gives this team the best shot at the most wins. My reasoning is that our defense is not at the level where they will go out and shut teams down and win us games. Therefore the QB needs to be able to go out an pass us to victory especially since it appears we do not have the running capable of controlling the ball.

  • aallgod

    Couldn’t agree more, ArtVandelay. And I like those nicknames, haha.

    From a financial and logistical standpoint, DA would fit the bill for this year. I mean hey, if our defense didn’t give up 20+ point averages a game, sure… let Quinn “game manage” and see what happens. But if this organization TRULY wants to put wins on the board THIS year, you need to be “slinging the ball around” a bit more. Just the way the cookie crumbles.

  • maddawg128

    hey art, gunslingers keep offenses off the field and your T.O.P. numbers are low. when ur defense sucks you want your offense to control the clock,keep it running! quinn gives us this on a consistent basis!

  • maddawg128

    you also need to understand DA cant throw short to medium range balls consistently!!!!! the more we punt, the more we lose. if im not mistaking,browns had no punts vs. greenbay when quinn was under center vs.a top ranked defense. and in his 2 and a half games last year look at his 3 an out numbers da only had one game better than quinn!

  • bobby

    Maddawg, don’t try to say DA cant throw ‘medium’ range passes, or even speculate that quinn is better. from 10-25 yards, DA is better passing then Quinn. within 10 yards, its quinn, but his accuracy goes down the farther you make the pass. DA has that accuracy, just not the touch, so the 10 yard passes often have too much zip.