Cleveland Browns: Learning From Past Mistakes
Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
The Brady Quinn/Derek Anderson era in Cleveland is over...done...finished.
While there is no need to dwell on the past, it is important that we learn from past mistakes so they do not get repeated in future.
GM Phil Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel drafted Brady Quinn as the 22nd pick in the 2007 draft to become the franchise quarterback. Quinn held out due to a contract dispute and did not make it into camp on time, making it impossible for him to win the starting job his rookie season.
That opened the door for Derek Anderson, who put on a show leading the team to a 10-6 record and narrowly missing the playoffs.
The "success" of the 2007 season may have been one of the worst things to happen to the Browns franchise, the coaches, the front office, and not to mention, the quarterbacks.
Savage was left with a decision about what to do with the "upstart" Anderson and "future" Quinn. He probably made the wrong choice.
Anderson was signed to a big contract, named the starter, and Quinn was not traded.
We all know what happened.
To sum it all up: Anderson sucked; Quinn showed some signs before being injured; and the season was a wash.
Out went Savage and Crennel and in came Eric Mangini and George Kokinis.
Mangini called for an open competition in training camp and preseason. Neither QB impressed and Mangini did not inform them who was the starter until a couple of days before the start of the season.
In hindsight, this was not handled well, and Mangini will be the first person to admit that.
To sum up the season: Quinn had about one and a half good games, Anderson sucked, and the season was a wash.
Out went Kokinis and in came Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert.
With the coming of the new regime came new moves.
Out went Anderson and Quinn and in came Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, and another quarterback in the draft (from this point on we will refer to this player as "The QB").
Now looking back…what could have been done differently?
Quinn was a fan favorite from the second he was drafted. He became the face of the franchise and his jerseys were on the backs of countless fans before Quinn ever suited up himself.
After investing so much in Quinn, Savage and Crennel needed to say to him at some point (prior to the 2008 season, in my opinion) "This is your time. You are the starter. Show us what you can do."
That never happened.
When a franchise QB is drafted the team is eventually turned over to him. For better or for worse, this what (good) franchises do.
The Cincinnati Bengals drafted Carson Palmer first overall in 2003 but sat him for his entire rookie season.
Jon Kitna started instead and served as his mentor and had the best season of his career (3500+ yards, 26 TDs, 87.4 RAT). Despite that good season, Kitna was benched in 2004 for the future of the team in Palmer.
This strategy worked out pretty well for them (not to mention several other teams that have also followed this routine). The Bengals have been to the postseason twice and Palmer has been to two Pro Bowls.
The Browns would have been wise to follow this plan with Quinn in 2008. (He may have sucked just like Anderson did, but at least we would have known.)
Instead, Anderson played terribly, ruining any chance of trading him for any value. The subsequent misuse of Quinn led to the team getting very little in return for him as well.
Now looking forward…what will be done differently?
The QB will be the future of the team. He will most likely not start in 2010 and may even wait until 2012 before he takes the reins. This will depend on his developmental level when he comes into the league. (For instance, Sam Bradford would see the field sooner than Tim Tebow.)
You can bank on Holmgren, Heckert, and Mangini reaching a specific point where they call The QB into their office and say "This is your time. You are the starter. Show us what you can do."
The failure to do this with Quinn may have been what doomed Savage and Crennel.
Holmgren has said that this will not happen with The QB. Both Holmgren and Heckert have been through the process of picking a future quarterback before (unlike Savage and Crennel).
At some point, whether in one year or two, they will turn the team over to him. He will get his shot with the luxury of not being on a short leash. He will not have to worry about Delhomme coming back in after the first interception he throws.
Holmgren and Heckert have the pedigree of excellence when it comes to player management.
They have paid attention to history and will not make the same mistakes that have plagued the Browns franchise for the past 10 years.
(Author’s note: I had been a very big proponent of giving Quinn one more year. The first article I ever wrote was on this. I still believe that Quinn can be a successful QB in the NFL. I have never been a Quinn fan. I only thought he could still be the future franchise QB. But he is no longer with the Browns so I am done with him. Moving forward I am fully in support of Holmgren and Heckert. I trust them in their choice of who should be the Browns franchise QB.
“In Holmgren I trust.”)
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