I know Brady Quinn is better than Derek Anderson.
I’ve been massaging a headache for the last week, ever since Head Coach Eric Mangini announced he might wait until the end of training camp to announce who is starting quarterback is going to be.
Since that time, there have been numerous articles and blog posts written on the subject, some good, some bad, some passionate, some rote. Each writer has tried to make a case for Quinn or Anderson to varying degrees of success.
I decided to throw my two cents into this debate with some numbers that I don’t remember seeing anywhere else, and here’s why:
I KNOW Brady Quinn is better than Derek Anderson. I KNOW this.
While Quinn only has a small history from which to work with, what I found feels statistically significant to me. I compared Quinn’s first two full starts—versus the Denver Broncos in Week 10 and the Buffalo Bills in Week 11—to Anderson’s first two starts of the season, versus the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Quinn went 23 of 35 for 239 yards and two touchdowns versus the Broncos, and 14 of 36 for 185 yards versus Buffalo. These numbers include 15 passing plays for a first down, with the team only racking up three penalties for 20 yards in Denver, and 11 passing plays for a first down and three penalties for a total of 30 yards in Buffalo.
The penalty yards are significant to this argument, but I’ll explain further in a moment.
Anderson went 11 of 24 for 114 yards versus Dallas, and 18 of 32 for 166 yards with two interceptions versus Pittsburgh. No touchdown passes either game, and only seven passing plays for a first down in Dallas and nine passing plays for a first down in Pittsburgh.
The difference between the two quarterbacks for their first two starts couldn’t be more different. Despite the legend of Anderson’s arm, Quinn threw for more yards and was more efficient at throwing the ball for first downs.
Yes, Braylon Edwards dropped a lot of balls, but he wasn’t the only receiver on the field and he was there to handicap both quarterbacks equally, so that argument is invalid for comparison purposes.
Now, to the penalties.
The first two weeks, the Browns tallied nine penalties for 55 yards versus Dallas and an atrocious 10 penalties for 65 yards in Pittsburgh.
While I don’t have a breakdown on what the penalties were, false starts and illegal shifts by the offensive line were huge problems for the Browns last year. But under Quinn, the penalties decreased.
That’s not a case of the Brown’s coaching staff getting better, or the line suddenly getting smarter, that’s clear evidence the offense operated better under Quinn.
The most damning evidence against Anderson is his growing ability to be a coach-killer. Going back through the mists of time, all the way to Week 16 of the 2007 season, the young Derek Anderson faced a, “Win, you’re in, lose, you go home” situation.
How did Anderson respond versus the mighty Cincinnati Bengals?
He went 29 of 48 for 250 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions.
Against the BENGALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(We interrupt this column to remind the casual football fan that the Bengals haven’t been good since the Reagan Administration. We now return you to your regularly scheduled column).
Despite his presence of mind to completely crumble in a playoff atmosphere, Anderson was the starter going into last season due to his numbers and his forgettable Pro Bowl appearance, where I think he threw 10 interceptions and knocked out an old lady with one errant throw.
Now it’s up to Mangini, who has to be careful with this quarterback “competition.”
I use quotes because I think Quinn already is the starter, Mangini just wants to screw with other teams and raise Anderson’s trade value. Plus, it’ll keep Quinn on his toes, and that’s what Mangini wants.
That being said, Anderson was partially responsible for the end of the Romeo Crennel era in Cleveland.
Crennel was just as much to blame for his demise by sticking with Anderson long past the point where it was obvious Anderson had no answers for defenses that had adjusted to his style of play.
However, Anderson has that “aura” that infatuates certain coaches.
Anderson will play well just long enough for you to think he’s turned some kind of proverbial corner. The minute you think that, the quarterback that played Cincinnati in Week 16 of the 2007 season shows up, and you’re doomed.
While Quinn has all the necessary pedigree from his college years, he hasn’t truly been tested in the pros yet. However, I will say the poise he showed in college and in the pros so far is light years ahead of Anderson’s.
I’ve seen what Anderson has when the team is backed into a corner, and I do not ever want to see it again.
I do not know what Quinn will show in a professional playoff atmosphere, but I like my chances with Quinn a lot better.
So let Anderson go the way of Charlie Frye and let the Browns, as a team, move forward. Let the recent past die the death it deserves.