The long-standing phrase in the city of Cleveland is that the most popular athlete is the backup quarterback—the rationale being, of course, that he’s not the one leading the Browns to a defeat every Sunday.
Case in point: In 2007, Derek Anderson was the hottest commodity in town the first few weeks after taking over for Charlie Frye, but long before the end of the season, everyone in Northeast Ohio started clamoring for Brady Quinn.
Thus begs the question: How long will Anderson maintain the starting job before the pressure overwhelms him?
You take a look at his numbers and assume that he has been terrible—he’s completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes, has six interceptions to just three touchdowns, and has yet to throw for more than 166 yards in a game.
But it isn’t just Anderson that is to blame here. Braylon Edwards clearly hasn’t been healthy this season, and when he’s gotten open, he can’t hang on to the football. Then, with the injuries to Donte’ Stallworth and Joe Jurevicius, the number two and three receiving options have been Syndric Steptoe and Josh Cribbs—not exactly awe-inspiring.
Finally, the dominant offensive line play from 2007 has been compromised this year. I’ve seen Joe Thomas get beat around the edge at left tackle more times this season than I can remember all of last season. Eric Steinbach, Rex Hadnot and Ryan Tucker have all been nicked up this year.
The offense is going to be in a lot of trouble Monday night against the Giants. Though Stallworth is expected to play—provided he doesn’t hurt himself walking out of the locker room—Kellen Winslow has just been ruled out.
New York comes into the game with the NFL’s third-rated defense, behind Cleveland’s AFC foes Baltimore and Pittsburgh. The Giants allow just 236 yards per game, 154 through the air. They already have 15 sacks through four games, led by Fred Robbins (four) and Justin Tuck (three).
Yes, it’s going to be a long night on ESPN. But don’t expect to see Brady Quinn anytime soon, barring an injury to Anderson. Though Anderson has been far from perfect, he is a large reason why the team had a shot at the postseason in 2007.
And when would you like to see Quinn make his debut? Against the Giants defense? The Redskins or Jaguars? The Ravens? Bills? Titans? Eagles? Steelers? All but the Jaguars rank in the top-15 in total defense, and I believe Jacksonville’s strength still lies in its defense.
Yes, this has been a disappointing season so far, and there’s plenty of blame to go around. But let’s not lay it all on the starting quarterback, who is just one part of 11 that needs to play well in order for an offense to be successful.