Of Lincoln, Kafka, and the Latest Cleveland QB Controversy

Christopher MaherCorrespondent IJune 14, 2009

CLEVELAND - SEPTEMBER 16:  Brady Quinn #10 and Derek Anderson #3 of the Cleveland Browns look on during the NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at the Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 16, 2007 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

"A house divided against itself cannot stand."   – Abraham Lincoln

President Lincoln said that regarding the slavery issue, which was far more important than any quarterback controversy, but it's difficult to convince a beered-up tailgate partier in the Muny Lot of its greater importance.

As of this writing, Browns fans are that divided house, and under its barely-standing roof reside the Hatfields and the McCoys, or in contemporary Internet terms, the Quinnbots and the Anderoids.

Support Anderson? You're a moronic Notre Dame hater who is jealous of Brady Quinn's looks and you must have something against the "local boy" (note: Columbus is NOT a suburb of Cleveland) whose destiny lies in bringing the Browns to the Super Bowl.

Support Quinn? You are anointing a "golden boy" who padded his college stats against the service academies and has proven nothing on this level. Did we mention Quinn's inability to throw the long ball? Have we questioned your sexual orientation yet?

No matter which camp a reader may reside in, let's look at a few facts here.

First, if the fundamental flaws of the 2008 Browns are not fixed (clock management, execution, lack of talent, lack of intelligence), it will make scant difference whether Joe Montana or Elmer Fudd take the snaps.

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Second, the coaches know more than we do. Really, they do.

We can sit in Cleveland Browns Stadium or watch the games in our warm living rooms on our HDTVs and see something we want to blame entirely on the quarterback. 

Someone may have blown a route, or the staff may have called the wrong play.

We think we see "huddle presence" on the CBS or FOX feed while we're eating what we've just grilled or opening another beverage of our choice, but we don't.

We simply see a camera zooming in, and hear some commentator saying something we could have easily spoken ourselves if we did not have a mouth full of whatever we grilled.

This leads us to Franz Kafka.

I read Kafka and his fellow Russian writer Anton Chekhov in high school, and their stories were bleak. Very bleak.

I have often recommended the HBO series The Wire to others, citing both Kafka and Chekhov reincarnate. The Wire's characters, while flawed, could ultimately only be as good as the system they were stuck in.

As were the characters of Kafka and Chekhov.

This, in turn, leads us back to the coaching staff, and in turn, to how little we in the cheap seats actually know.

Derek Anderson, since his first start in 2006 relieving an injured Charlie Frye (another Ohio native who grew up as a Browns fan) has been consistently inconsistent.

Yes, to a Browns fan, the consistent inconsistency has been exasperating.

To be fair, we need to ask how much of this consistent inconsistency was Anderson, how much was the play calling, how much was blown assignments, and how much of it can be attributed to dropsies from Anderson's primary targets?

You and I think we know, but we don't. We tend to have other obligations that prevent us from seeing every practice in Berea. 

Many Browns fans love to label Anderson as cognitively challenged, but they do not know all of the details.

They are not privy to the information, and even if they watched every single OTA and training camp performance, they would probably still not comprehend a fraction of what the coaching staff intended.

Could it be that both Anderson and Quinn were stuck in a situation where they could only be as good as the (inept) previous regime allowed them to be?

Thus, this coaching staff may just want to come in with no pre-conceptions and evaluate both quarterbacks with no prejudice. 

And that, fellow Browns fans, is the way it should be done. 

In September, we can complain to our limits and swear like Tony Soprano about how much whoever gets the nod at starting QB sucks.

But, our livelihoods don't depend on it. The livelihoods of Eric Mangini and his staff do.

Let Mangini do his job. He knows where the buck stops. Do we?