Why Derek Anderson Should Start for the Cleveland Browns

Chike ErokwuContributor IJune 9, 2009

BALTIMORE - SEPTEMBER 21:  Derek Anderson #3 of the Cleveland Browns walks off the field in the forth quarter  against the Baltimore Ravens September 21, 2008 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens won the game 28-10. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Admit it, you’re in love.

You just can’t stop thinking about him. You’ve seen his commercials, watched his press conferences, and even purchased some of his merchandise.

Like our King, he is one of Ohio’s native sons, with the dashing good looks and charisma to warrant coronation himself.

He descended from the holy grail of academic institutions, Notre Dame, and was even blessed with a recommendation from the esteemed offensive guru, Charlie Weis.

Admit it, you love Brady Quinn.

And I don’t blame you. His golden-boy image and persona represent everything good in the world of sports, and you can’t help but love him for that.

If left up to you, Brady Quinn would be named the starting quarterback for the Browns tomorrow, and all would be right in the dark, gloomy world of Cleveland sports. The crown prince would rightfully take his seat at the helm of this offense, and the Cleveland Browns would be a better team for it.

There’s only one thing standing between Quinn and his inevitable succession to the throne—a Scappoosian pocket passer named Derek Anderson.

Ah yes, Derek Anderson. You remember him, don’t you? He’s that clumsy 6'6" passer from Oregon State who started for the Browns in 2008. He’s the awkward quarterback with the goofy smile who seemingly wasn’t able to get the job done. With scruffy facial hair and a disheveled mop of brown hair, he’s the pauper attempting to steal the spotlight away from the publicly crowned prince Quinn.

Despite his outward appearance and statistical incompetence, Derek Anderson is in fact the right man for the job and should start for the Browns come opening day.

And you should love him too.

Before I get into why Anderson is the clear-cut choice for Cleveland this fall, there is a common misconception that must be cleared up immediately.

Read my words closely: Derek Anderson was not the reason for Cleveland’s anemic offensive production last season. Far from it. Injuries ravished the 2008 Browns like the plague—hitting virtually all facets of Cleveland’s seemingly explosive offense.

Preseason injuries limited wide receiver Braylon Edwards and scratched Donte' Stallworth from the season opener. Game-changing return specialist Josh Cribbs missed time with a bad ankle. A revolving door of offensive lineman created a mix-and-match group void of chemistry and lacking in talent.

Oh yeah, and Anderson began the season with a concussion.

All of these factors contributed to a Browns team that limped into their Week Four bye with a 1-3 record.

Once the rested Browns regained some of their key offensive personnel, they were fully able to compete with the best of the NFL. With Anderson under center, the Browns handed the 2007 World Champion New York Giants their worst loss of the season.

A three-point loss to Washington and a 14-point defensive meltdown against Baltimore dropped Cleveland to 3-5, costing Anderson his job and destroying what little hope the team had for rest of the season.

Had the circumstances been different, Derek Anderson never would have lost his job in the first place. A few timely touchdown passes (or receptions) against Pittsburgh, Washington, and Baltimore would have left Anderson, and the Browns would have been 6-2 through the halfway point of the season.

Now, I could sit here and pick at the schedule all day, but what’s done is done. The Browns win and lose games as a team, so it’s difficult to point toward one play as the decisive factor in a game.

It is difficult to make a case for what happened in the past, but it is much easier to look ahead to the future and see what needs to be done.

New head coach Eric Mangini must produce immediate results to ensure a successful stint in Cleveland. Browns owner Randy Lerner recently ended a turbulent three-year relationship with former GM Phil Savage and coach Romeo Crennel. The young, slightly naïve owner silently stood by with checkbook in hand as Savage spewed out more green than a Craftsman during summertime.

Unfortunately for Lerner, that spending never produced results, which undeniably cost both men their jobs.

Coming off the verge of a three-year relationship, it will be understandably hard for Randy Lerner to trust again so quickly. The easiest way for Mangini to make an impression upon a heartbroken owner is to win football games.

This is where Derek Anderson comes in.

Like any other position in football, real live experience is the best predictor of future success. Anderson has started 31 games compared to the four started by Brady Quinn. Anderson has thrown 43 touchdown passes in his NFL career—five fewer than the number of passes Quinn has completed to this point.

Although Anderson’s career completion percentage of 54.6 isn’t eye-popping, it looks much better against Quinn’s 49.5.

Whether you love him or hate him, Derek Anderson is a solid veteran quarterback who gives the Browns a chance to win on Sunday. Brady Quinn may be great one day—however, now is not the time to find out. Eric Mangini must show drastic improvement to win over the players and the fans, and that improvement starts with an experienced signal caller running the offense.

If the team remains healthy and Anderson plays within himself, the Browns will surely surprise some people.

They will win football games—and that’s something that everybody will love.


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