If you drive through Cleveland on the shore way you will eventually make your way past Cleveland Browns Stadium and see a big orange billboard that reads "There's Always This Year." A comical poke at the usual Browns fans saying of "wait til next year." After a 3-5 start through the first half of the 2008 season fans are beginning to chant that familiar phrase.
The Browns' dismal record along with a struggling starting quarterback may have led the team to do the only thing it can do to generate excitement heading into Thursday night's game against the Denver Broncos: Name Brady Quinn the starting quarterback. That's right, the most hyped college quarterback to never start in the NFL is getting his chance Thursday night.
Many are saying that this move is just to please the fans, and Derek Anderson is not the only one to fault for the Browns disappointing season. After coughing up a 14-point second-half lead to the hated Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Browns fans were screaming Brady's name from the stands. And on Monday, it became official that the team was benching pro-bowler Derek Anderson, whose season numbers resemble nothing of a pro-bowlers' through eight games.
Romeo Crennel insists the decision to switch quarterbacks was his and not influenced by the fans. But he and all of the Browns must have heard the calls for the former first round pick echoing throughout the stadium on Sunday. Crennel has watched Anderson be thoroughly inconsistent all year, and decided to make the switch in a short week. The call for the switch so soon could be because the front office wants Brady Quinn's first start to be at home and against a below average NFL defense instead of on Monday Night Football on the road.
With all of the optimism heading into the 2008 season for the Browns, and the way the season has gone so far, this was a move that had to be made. At this point the Browns are a longshot to slip into the playoffs in the log-jammed AFC. This could give the team a jolt, a new face, and new energy they need to possibly turn the season around. For the front office, it is finally time to see if Quinn was worth the draft picks they gave up to get him.
Quinn will obviously have all eyes on his every move just as Aaron Rogers did in Green Bay when he took over for the legendary Brett Favre. The only thing Quinn can do is produce. He is the fan favorite because he is an Ohio native. The fans may tolerate a bad half, or poor first outing, but sooner or later it will be time for him to show us why our front office decided to make him the face of the franchise.
Unfortunately, Derek Anderson's stock has dropped so low that it seems almost impossible that the Browns would be able to get anything for him if they traded him in the off-season, assuming Brady Quinn secures the job as his. Which leaves you to think of what we could have gotten for him last off season instead of signing him to a three-year deal, while his stock was soaring.
There were reports that earlier in the season the Kansas City Chiefs offered the Browns two first round draft picks for Quinn and the front office balked. If that was truly the case, then Quinn should have been starting long before week 9. If you weren't willing to take two first round picks for him then he is obviously the quarterback you want on the field.
Finally, Quinn will get a chance to play for his favorite team growing up in Dublin, Ohio just outside of Columbus. If he produces and runs off multiple wins the fans will by wondering where this was from the beginning. If he bombs then the front office is back where they started; without a quarterback, and two years down the drain.