The name Seneca Wallace has never invoked fear in the heart of an opposing team's defense, but then again, that's not why Browns' President Mike Holmgren brought him to Cleveland. Wallace was meant to merely be a competent backup to the starting quarterback of the franchise, currently Jake Delhomme, and optimistically Colt McCoy in the future.
That all may have changed however in one unfortunate moment in Week 1 against Tampa Bay when Jake Delhomme suffered a sprained ankle. Taking his place, Wallace has excelled against two divisional rivals, the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals.
He has notched the first victory of the Browns' young season against the Bengals, ending many fans' fear that Cleveland was in for a long win-less slide, and in the meantime has seemingly won over the city and locker-room.
This week it's been reported that starting quarterback Delhomme has been practicing and appears about ready to take the reigns again against Atlanta or Pittsburgh.
The big question is: for a quarterback that was run out of his previous team's town for doing his best impression of a Jeckyll & Hyde character, has he done enough to earn the starting role over the man who's been right in the middle of the fray for the last three games?
The biggest knock on Jake Delhomme the past two seasons has been his lack of confidence in himself on the field. After hearing the boos and jeers of the fans of Carolina last year, it's been speculated his fragile ego has never quite recovered.
For a player at such a temperamental position that demands poise and a level head, confidence is the key to staring down Ray Lewis and James Harrison, knowing that they can't lay a hand on you. It has to be asked if Delhomme has that quality anymore?
One thing we've seen for sure is that Seneca has gone toe-to-toe with Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, Keith Rivers, and Rey Maualuga; and didn't blink.
He possesses a confidence and swagger that he carries with him, utilizing his intelligence and speed to avoid the pass rush and find his receivers down-field.
Jake is currently struggling to rehab from a sprained ankle. We all saw how poorly he played in the second half of Week 1 while favoring it.
Wallace is healthy.
For the last eight seasons he has backed up Pro Bowler Matt Hasselback every single time he went down with an injury, which were pretty frequent. Each time, Wallace stepped up and filled in admirably.
This time it's no different, a healthy quarterback full of confidence trumps a beat-up quarterback with questionable confidence.
While stats don't mean everything, Wallace has been the absolute model of consistency for the last eight seasons, and has outperformed Delhomme in 2010 to date.
This season, Wallace has gone 52/85 in completions, notching a 61.2 percentage. Delhomme has gone 20/37 in completions, earning himself a 54.1 percentage.
Wallace has tossed 3 TD's, 2 INT's, and put up an 82.2 passer rating.
Delhomme has tossed 1 TD, 2 INT's, and put up a 59.2 passer rating.
The stats don't lie, Seneca has taken care of the ball, and put the Browns in a position to win each game.
Being a mobile quarterback behind a line that has a weak spot or two comes in handy. Against a pass-rushing division like the AFC North, your quarterback has to be able to avoid the sack, especially in a possession offense.
Wallace hands-down has done a great job in getting outside the pocket and allowing the play to develop. He has only been brought down 4 times in three games, but in the process has turned a lot of potentially negative yard situations into positive gains, throwing across his body with accuracy and speed.
Seneca Wallace: 8/6/1980 (Age 30)
Jake Delhomme: 1/10/1975 (Age 35)
For a rebuilding team, it's important to have a veteran leader who will be around for years to come. In this case, Delhomme has steadily regressed since the 2007 season, while Wallace has been steady in his production through his sporadic starts annually.
It's more likely that Delhomme will be out of the league within a few seasons; the Browns need to move ahead with a passer who can continue to be a veteran and mentor presence for seasons to come, while contributing on the field until the franchise passer is found.
Wallace's connections to the Browns' President should play an important role in the decision to move forward with the franchise. Seneca was drafted during the Mike Holmgren-era in Seattle in 2003, and through many seasons in Seattle, Wallace has earned the respect, admiration, and trust of Holmgren through his reliable play and hard work.
He is familiar with the play-calling of Holmgren, and has been brought up learning his system. He is also knowledgeable of the philosophies and ideals that Mike Holmgren wants to employ in the city of Cleveland, and will be a great lobbyist for spreading his message in the locker-room for years to come.
A great argument since preseason for starting Seneca, is how much he expands the playbook. As a mobile passer, he is a threat with his arm and feet alike, making him a perfect fit for Wildcat schemes.
Along with Cleveland utility-man Joshua Cribbs, he has an arsenal of plays that have been seldom seen so far, yet pack a tricky punch for the offense.
The Cyclone and Flash packages deploy different combinations of Wallace, Cribbs, and running backs in the backfield to keep the defense on their toes, hopefully breaking off big yardage for the Browns.
Jake Delhomme being simply a drop-back passer doesn't give Cleveland these options.
In 2009, Cleveland's anemic offense struggled to put up so much as a field goal.
In 2010 under Wallace, through three games Cleveland has scored 54 points. For you math majors out there, that's an average of 18 points a game. With the defense giving up an average of 19 points per game, that means every game is, and has been winnable.
Before Cleveland, Baltimore hadn't given up a touchdown on the season, Cleveland took them for two.
One of those two touchdowns? A pass from Wallace.
Had it not been for a gutless punt in the fourth quarter on a 4th & 2, there may be no quarterback controversy as we speak.
Each start under Wallace, the point totals have continued to climb.
14 against Kansas City, 17 against Baltimore, and 23 against Cincinnati.
Following the 3-6-9 pattern, will 32 be scored against Atlanta? Any given Sunday.
The win against the Bengals certainly helped, now the fanbase seems to be split between quarterbacks.
There are those that love Wallace, and those that say he is a career backup. On the other hand, some say Delhomme has looked sharp this year, and others that say Delhomme is a has-been.
While not exactly the Anderson-Quinn controversy, Seneca has made quite a case for himself to be the starter the rest of the season. While Delhomme is scheduled to make the start if healthy, he's sure to be on a short leash if the 2009 version of himself makes an appearance.
In Eric Mangini's words,"(Wallace) has gotten more and more comfortable running the offense, I don't want anybody to think that by putting Jake in this is some knock on Seneca. I think Seneca has done a great job. And he's played well against really tough defenses. I have no problem with him starting, playing."
A smiling Mangini picture is too priceless not to use.
In Delhomme's absence Cleveland has seen the emergence of offensive weapons in the form of bruiser Peyton Hillis, tight end Benjamin Watson, and wide receivers Joshua Cribbs and Chansi Stuckey.
For the first time in years, Cleveland has an offense with all cylinders firing and the Browns are playing like a real team. With steady improvement in each week, is this any time to change horses mid-stream?
Wallace should start until he gives management a reason not to.
Throughout this article, there have been more than a handful of knocks on Delhomme, and they aren't exactly unfounded. He is however, a solid backup quarterback that can come in and play when needed.
Much like in the way Mark Brunell contributes in New York and Kerry Collins does in Tennessee, he would still be useful providing veteran leadership and mentoring Cleveland's young passer(s).
If Cleveland's coaching picks Delhomme to start, he should have the fans' unconditional support, but taking a good long look at Seneca Wallace should be a strong consideration first.