If the last 10 years have proven anything, it's that having a franchise quarterback is the best way to win a Super Bowl in the NFL.
It is worth noting the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots also were known for their tough defenses in their Super Bowl years, but the common factor linking the Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Giants, and the Warner-led Rams was a star quarterback.
This is all a longwinded way of saying the Browns may have to move on from Brady Quinn. This decision is not as simple as it looks, and Quinn still has a chance to redeem himself and become the quarterback former general manager Phil Savage picked him to be.
Quinn just finished his third year with the Browns but has barely played a full 16 games in that time span. He showed promise in his limited playing time during the 2008 season but looked awful at the beginning of the 2009 season.
After his benching, and Derek Anderson’s entirely predictable descent into irrelevance, Quinn returned to much better numbers, but only relatively speaking.
His accuracy on deep balls was deplorable, but he was great on short passes and moved the team down the field.
However, as Mike Holmgren pointed out at the press conference earlier this week, you typically don’t win games when your quarterback only throws the ball a handful of times.
Here is what Holmgren has to figure out because offensive coordinator Brian Daboll figures heavily into this: Were the troubles at quarterback solely due to a talent deficiency, or did bad coaching sabotage the skills of a young quarterback?
Daboll should not be back as the Browns offensive coordinator. The success the team had at the end of the year was more due to a good running game, and taking the ball out of Anderson’s hands, than anything else.
Daboll consistently put one of the historically worst offenses on the field in 2009. While he was a rookie coordinator, as has been pointed out several times, his resume wasn’t exactly brimming with accomplishments to suggest he’d earned the promotion.
As a player, Quinn is expected to perform, and no one should let him off the hook for not performing at a higher level, but how much was Quinn handcuffed?
The first 10 quarters of the season were a disaster for Quinn, but he played like a man who was looking over his shoulder, waiting for the leash to be jerked back. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy and one of the biggest blunders of head coach Eric Mangini’s 2009 season.
Quinn has the intangibles that make a good quarterback. He has a good instinct for what’s going on with the defenses, he motivates the team and he makes more good decisions than bad ones when he’s under pressure.
But his numbers are what they are, 1,339 yards and eight touchdowns with a 67.2 passer rating. Even in his shortened season, those numbers aren’t good, and the passer rating is atrocious when an 80 passer rating is considered average.
Anderson's numbers aren't worth discussing and his salary most likely will take him out of the equation for 2010 and beyond. Add to that his benching by two different head coaches, and his days in a Browns uniform definitely look about over.
Both Quinn and Anderson were plagued by drops, no arguing that point, but this all plays into Holmgren’s decision on whether to keep Quinn as the starter or move on.
There are some free agents that could become available should Holmgren deem the Quinn project over, and there are one or two quarterbacks coming out of college who look promising, but there are no “home runs” out there on either front.
The quarterback decision will go a long way toward determining how the Browns set up their draft going into 2010, and there will be no “Team Quinn” or “Team Anderson” T-shirts for sale on this one.