The idea of this article came from a debate I recently had with fellow Bleacher Report writer Sam Ingro. He and I both believe that Brady Quinn will be the starting quarterback for the Browns. Where we disagree is that I believe he should already be the guy while Ingro believes that Quinn should have to earn it in a competition.
My take on it is that it was already resolved last season. It wasn't resolved when Derek Anderson was benched and Quinn came in. It was resolved when Anderson had a chance to come back in after Quinn's injury and show the coaches they were wrong. Instead he looked horrible and produced nothing.
By holding a competition for the job, Eric Mangini is only reopeining a can of worms that really does not need to be reopened. This to me should have been a no brainer from day one. Name Quinn the starter and deal Anderson.
Looking at this thing realistically, I think both guys are capable of about the same thing this year. That is leading the team to about an 8-8 record. The Browns will probably be about the same whether it is Anderson or Quinn behind center.
I know there are readers thinking that if the record will be about 8-8 either way, why shouldn't they let them compete to see who is better? While I do believe that both are capable of the same thing, the major difference is where they are in stages of development. That is what should make it a no brainer.
If Anderson and Quinn were plants they would look totally different. Anderson would be fully blossomed and Quinn would be barely above the dirt. Yet the plant that is barely above the dirt is producing about the same as the fully blossomed plant.
In other words, Quinn still has a lot of growing to do and he is only getting started. At the same time, I really don't see much more growth out of Anderson. I think the Browns have seen what Anderson will develop into and 10-6 is the best they will ever do with him.
Now I want to take a look at what happens if Anderson wins the job and what happens if Quinn wins the job. Either way it will be about an 8-8 season. However, it will be a much different kind of 8-8 record.
What happens if Derek Anderson wins the job?
Many have asked me that if I believe that Quinn is that much better, won't he win the competition anyway. Well I believe he will but I am not going to lie. Anderson can win the job. Anderson can also get his butt kicked from one end of Cleveland to the other. It depends on which Anderson shows up.
Can Anderson get hot for a couple of pre season games and win the job? Yes he can.
Can Anderson maintain that consistency for 16 weeks in the regular season? I highly doubt it. Anderson never was consistent, not even in college. If there is any indication of future behavior, it is past behavior. In the past he has been very inconsistent.
The other issue is that heading into 2008, many speculated that he was a "flash in the pan" in 2007. I told many of my friends that he has the word FLUKE written all over his forehead. Many doubted me but I had a pretty good idea that I was right.
I have a formula that I honestly should patent. That is when a player gets hot for a few games, I can determine whether or not he is a fluke. I am not saying my formula is perfect but so far I have not been wrong. What it is is five clear warning signs that the guy is a fluke.
1. Red Hot Start- When Anderson took over for his first start against the Bengals he came out with all guns blazing.
2. Declining Numbers to End the Season- From about week 10 on, defensive coordinators figured him out and he threw much more interceptions than touchdowns in the last few games.
3. Strong Performances came when No Pressure Was On- When Anderson took over he was filling in while Quinn was getting ready. There really was no pressure for him to do well because he was only supposed to be in for a few games. Then when the pressure mounted he folded and continued to do so last year.
4. Poor Performances in Big Games- Against the Patriots and Steelers Anderson was not very good. Then in the biggest game of the year he threw four interceptions to cost the Browns the playoffs.
5. Was Unimpressive Prior to Big Year- The Ravens cut him because they were more impressed with Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright. That is pretty unimpressive. He also had a chance to start a few games at the end of 2006 for the Browns. I think he threw like 5 TDs and 8 INTs. Both he and Frye were so unimpressive the next pre season that it was decided with a coin toss.
Usually if a quarterback exhibits 3 of those signs, I think he is a fluke. Anderson exhibited all 5. Sure there is the argument that 2008 wasn't all Anderson's fault. Braylon Edwards wasn't exactly his best friend last year. He did drop 19 balls. That is a lot and he should have been benched along with Anderson.
However, Anderson did enough wrong on his own without anybody's help. That play against the Ravens and Terrell Suggs was just brutal. The turnovers and lack of organization in the huddle made the unit look bad. That is on the quarterback.
Plus I noticed that if the defense puts any pressure on him, he throws it low, high, or out of control. It is the NFL and a quarterback has to be able to complete a pass under pressure.
At the end of the day, the Browns have a fully blossomed plant in Derek Anderson. I really do not see much more growth out of him at all. If he starts, the Browns will win about 8 games and will look very inconsistent from week to week. The feeling in the city will be another disappointing year.
In the meantime while the fully blossomed plant showed very little if any growth, the other plant is still barely above the dirt and Browns fans still don't know what they have in him.
Make no mistake of it. Anderson can win the job, but if he does it will be bad for the Browns.
What will happen if Brady Quinn wins the Job?
Many Quinn supporters are hoping for a breakout year from him. I am projecting that it won't happen. I think he will go through a lot of growth and development this year. That is why he has to play. Those who say he isn't ready may be correct. However, he won't learn anything more from the bench.
What I do think Quinn will do is more of what we saw last year in his first couple of starts. I think he will remind me of Tom Brady. Now relax, I don't mean Tom Brady today. I mean Tom Brady when he first took over in New England. They did win the Super Bowl. But that year Brady was a manage the game and not kill the team QB.
Last year's game against buffalo reminded be a lot of Tom Brady's first Super Bowl. He wasn't spectacular but he managed the game and made good decisions. In the end he led the Patriots to a game winning field goal. Does that sound familiar?
Quinn's critics will say that his completion percentage isn't that great. That is true but that can be worked on. Now imagine that you are an NFL coach. If you started a quarterback for the first few times, what would you say if I told you that your offensive production would average 29.5 points?
What if I also told you that there would be very few penalities and your young quarterback wouldn't turnover the ball at all? Would you take it? I sure would.
The point is that those who critique Quinn for checking down and not looking spectacular are really missing the big picture. It is better for a young quarterback not to try and do too much than it is for him to throw deep into triple coverage.
One argument I hear is that would Quinn be working as hard if he didn't have to compete. Knowing what I know about him, I would say yes. He had a great work ethic his last couple years at Notre Dame when there was no way he was ever coming out.
He worked hard after his rookie year even when he had no chance to start the year as the starter. His work ethic never changes no matter what.
By putting Quinn in the Browns will see a lot of growth from September to December. Now the plant that was barely above the dirt is much higher above the dirt. The best part is that that plant still isn't even fully blossomed.
Now what happens if Quinn folds and doesn't grow? Well then at least the Browns would know. Then they could look in other directions. At the end of the day that isn't so bad since the program is rebuilding anyway.
Whether you go with Quinn or Anderson you get about an eight win season. But let me ask you, which eight win season looks better? We all know the answer.