Tag:Derek Anderson
Posted on: October 18, 2009 11:27 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2009 11:32 pm

Week 6: Steeler Weak

The Cleveland Browns lost this game.

This time, there are no excuses. No complains. The Browns ran in to a stronger football team and they came up short on their own accord.

This was as pure of a loss as I have ever seen.

Unlike in weeks past, the Browns have no one to blame but themselves. There were no questionable field goals or muffed punts. No inexperienced quarterbacks or experimental receivers. The Browns’ best 53 played their best game against Pittsburgh, and the better team won.

Offensively, the Browns were unable to develop any rhythm in the passing game. Dropped balls and inaccurate passes seemed to be the call of the day, and such mistakes will not get the job done against the tough Pittsbugh football team. The score did not allow Cleveland to successfully run the ball late, but they may have found something with Cribbs in the wildcat. He averaged well over 7 yards per attempt from the formation.

Defensively, Cleveland could not find a way to get to Ben Roethlisberger. The pass rush was non-existent at times, and any time you give that kind of a quarterback that much time, bad things will happen.

Ten From The Gentledawg

10. Brandon McDonald is the weakest link in this secondary.

I have suspected this for some time and today’s performance confirmed my suspicions: Brandon McDonald is a very beatable cornerback. He did not have a good game today. McDonald seems to have lost confidence as he gave too much cushion on several of his assignments. He did not hold containment on a few outside runs and he was consistently beaten in zone coverage. Although the Browns played a very talented group of receivers today, I would have liked to see better play from McDonald.

9. League-wide officiating is at an all-time low.

Like virtually every NFL game played this year, a few questionable calls directly impacted the final score of the game. With athletes becoming faster and stronger, the margin of victory in this league has become slim. It’s up to the referees, umpires, and line judges to make sure they make the right call and I’m not sure that was done today. Over the past three weeks, we’ve seen: a missed field goal decide the outcome of a game, a phantom roughing the passer call, and a blown call on 4th and inches.

8. Derek Anderson's lack of pocket presence is concerning.

As a quarterback, Derek Anderson has the intelligence to run the offense and the arm strength to make all the throws. The one thing Anderson lacks which prevents him from becoming an elite quarterback is pocket mobility. To put it bluntly, Anderson is about as graceful as an ostrich. When plays break down and he is forced to improvise, Derek Anderson appears lost. I’m not asking him to be Michael Vick back there, but Anderson should have the vision and awareness to manipulate the pocket and keep plays alive with his legs.

7. Eric Mangini has brought about change in Cleveland.

There have been few positives to take from the beginning of the 2009 season. One thing the Cleveland Browns can pride themselves on is their disciplined play and outstanding game management. Questionable plays are being challenged. Timeouts are saved for crucial situations. Personnel has been shuffled in and out without any delay. These things may seem insignificant, but they are the foundation for a consistent and competitive football team.


6. Brian Daboll is settling in as the Browns' offensive coordinator.

There were several elements of this week’s game plan which indicate Brian Daboll is becoming more comfortable in his role as offensive coordinator. Daboll did a great job of getting the most out of his personnel. With Rex Hadnot and Floyd Womack both healthy and active, Daboll was able to move Hank Fraley and Eric Steinbach around to create favorable running and passing situations. Defending against Pittsburgh’s complex zone blitzing scheme is no easy task, and I thought Brian Daboll at least had the right schemes in place to help do so.

5. Tight end depth is a major issue for this team.

In addition to a nagging finger injury, Robert Royal came up lame with a leg injury during the third quarter of today’s game. Steve Heiden did not play due to bad knees and Greg Estandia has been a non-factor. For the Cleveland Browns to develop rhythm and consistency in the passing game, they will need to figure out a way to gain some sort of production from this position. With Tuesday’s trade deadline rapidly approaching, Kokinis may see it fit to improve the team by adding a tight end to the roster.

4. The Browns missed Kamerion Wimbley on defense.

Kamerion WImbley has been one of the reasons Cleveland has been the driving force behind what little pressure the Browns have generated thus far, and his presence was greatly missed against the Steelers. Jason Trusnik did not impress in his debut performance on defense. He was unable to win any of the one-on-one battles with offensive lineman – an absolute must for generating pressure. Wimbley is a key piece to Rob Ryan’s defense and the Browns will need him at his best to compete.

3.The Josh Cribbs contract situation baffles me.

It is rare to find a talent like Josh Cribbs. It’s even rarer to see that talent want to stay in Cleveland. Cribbs continues to prove he is worth every penny of any restructured deal he reaches with Browns management. According to Yahoo Sports, Cribbs’ base salary for the 2009 season is $645,000. If the Browns can afford to pay backup lineman Billy Yates $1,186,720, they should find a way to restructure a new deal for arguably their best skill position player on offense.

2. Mohamed Massaquoi is the new Braylon Edwards.

Take away the selfish disposition and the Hollywood aspirations, and Mohamed Massaquoi is a carbon copy of Braylon Edwards. On the field, Massaquoi is the inconsistent big-play receiver who struggles to make simple receptions. Over the past two games, Massaquoi has unofficially dropped six catchable passes. My biggest concern with Massaquoi is his effort level when plays break down. He seems to make halfhearted attempts to come back to the ball and his route running appears lackadaisical at times. He is still a rookie, but these problems must be addressed as soon as possible.

1. The Cleveland Browns are close to playing for next year.

Another L in the loss column means the Browns are one step closer to playing for next year. If this play continues then it may be time to take an extended look at some of the young talent on this roster. Young players like Coye Francies and David Veikune may deserve playing time if only to give them playing experience for the future. Eric Mangini will continue to play veterans, but if this goes on any longer, it may be time to start looking at 2010.

Posted on: October 4, 2009 6:43 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2009 7:19 pm

Week 4: 0-4 Never Felt So Good


If there were one thing to take from this game, it's the progression of the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns gave it everything they had for five quarters of football, but it wasn’t enough. A late Shayne Graham field goal in overtime proved to be the difference, as the Bengals outlasted the Browns – 23-20.

Although they lost a close game in overtime, Cleveland has to feel good about the way they performed today. Coming off back-to-back blowout losses on the road, this team showed tremendous heart and played with passion from start to finish.
There was no quit in this football team.

In his first game since being named the starter, Derek Anderson came in and played very well against an aggressive Bengals defense.

Anderson made several plays and rejuvenated an offense which seemed dead in the hands of Brady Quinn. There were a few questionable decisions and off-throws, but Anderson managed the game and gave the Browns a good chance to walk away with a win.

Josh Cribbs continued to prove why he’s the most explosive return man in the NFL. With every punt or defensive return, I felt the Browns had a chance to score before the offense stepped on the field.

Jerome Harrison and Mohammed Massaquoi filled in admirably for their counterparts, and the defense looked as good as it has all season.

0-4 never felt so good.

If there were a such thing as a moral victory, today would be one. There are several mistakes which need to be corrected, but anyone you get the sense the Cleveland Browns are headed in the right direction. The pieces are in place.

Cleveland seemed like a different team today. If they give this kind of effort every Sunday, Mangini will turn this thing around in a hurry.

Ten from the Gentledawg

10. Mike Furrey is a playmaker…

…And not just as a slot wide receiver. With Mike Adams moving to corner, the Browns became thin at safety and Furrey was there to fill the void. Although not targeted exclusively, Furrey broke up a key pass late in the game which helped force a punt to keep the game close. Mangini demands flexibility from all of his players. Having a player able to play offense and defense creates depth and versatility – two areas that have killed the Browns since their return to the league.

9. Defensively, the Cleveland Browns played their first complete game of the season.

Rob Ryan’s defense stepped up big-time against a very potent offense. Carson Palmer did not record a single passing yard in the second and third quarters. That is outstanding. The Browns were fundamentally sound throughout the course of the game. Tackling for the most part was outstanding. Containment in the running game was much better than we’ve seen in the first few weeks. Ryan’s schemes, particularly the stunt blitzes, created pressure on Palmer. If the defense plays like this every week, they’ll be successful.

8. Braylon Edwards was completely shut down.

I’m not sure whether it was Jonnathan Joseph or the particular gameplan created by Mike Zimmer, but the Cincinnati Bengals completely shut down Braylon Edwards. The only time Edwards’ number was called came during the 15-yard personal foul where he was flagged for retaliating against a Cincinnati defender. Based on his actions and body language, I’m beginning to believe Edwards isn’t coming back next season. You can see it in his press conferences. Edwards is simply going through the motions, and this just may be his last season as a Cleveland Brown.

7.  Josh Cribbs is the most valuable player on this roster.

Any time he touches the ball, Josh Cribbs gives the Cleveland Browns a chance to score. Cribbs’ vision, strength, and agility  allowed the Browns were able to keep up with Cincinnati – even when the offense stalled out. The Browns seemed to have figured out the best way to maximize Cribbs’ talent. Daboll minimized Cribbs’ contributions on offense. This allowed Josh to play exclusively on special teams where he is more dangerous.

6. Mohamed Massaquoi looked very good stepping into the secondary receiver position.

The Bengals did everything to make sure Braylon Edwards would not beat them. Someone had to step up in Edwards’ absence, and Massaquoi was the guy. Mohamed played well beyond his years today. He made a few great receptions – including hauling in the 30-year bomb that sparked the offense. On the flip side, what happened to Brian Robiskie? Although listed as active for the game, Robiskie did not contribute in the game.

5. Eric Mangini’s lineup changes were for the better.

Mangini made several changes to his defense prior to the start of today’s game. Mike Adams and Derek Anderson moved into starting roles while Brandon McDonald and Corey Williams rotated in sub packages. Mangini needed to spark this once lifeless team early in the season, and those lineup changes did just that.

4. Mike Adams had an outstanding game.

Whether it was at cornerback or on special teams, Mike Adams played well all day. The Bengals made Adams the focal point of their offensive attack early. As the game went on, Mike Adams settled in and his play was a big reason Palmer and the Bengals struggled to move the ball. Adams’ skills as a former safety showed up in run support, and if he keeps this up he’ll start again next week.

3. The “Big Dawg” made a few big plays.

If Rogers doesn’t block that kick in the fourth quarter, this game is over. Rogers also blocked a field goal early in the first quarter. Shaun Rogers single-handedly changed the complexion of this game. Romeo Crennel called Shaun Rogers the most dominant defensive lineman he’s ever coached, and today’s game was a good example of why.

2. Jerome Harrison has emerged as a feature back.

He ran hard all day. He showed good hands out of the backfield. Although he lost a fumble, Jerome Harrison showed great balance and surprising power on all 29 of his carries.  With the way Harrison has carried the ball these past few weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised if he remained the feature back – even when Jamal Lewis returns.

1.Derek Anderson played very well as the Browns starting quarterback.

Derek Anderson looked like a legitimate NFL quarterback. Anderson did a great job orchestrating this offense and moving the football team. Like many players on this team, it wasn’t all perfect. DA made some questionable decisions, but he didn’t force any throws and that kept the Browns in it. The Browns have a solid foundation to build upon for next week, and that starts with Derek Anderson.

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 27, 2009 5:54 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2009 6:21 pm

Week 3: Trouble in Paradise?

Throughout the offseason, Eric Mangini could not decide on a quarterback.
Three weeks into the regular season, nothing has changed.

Joe Flacco proved unflappable, the Ravens' defense dominated, and Baltimore embarrassed the Browns: 34-3.

Defensively, the Browns were dominated physically from the word go.

Baltimore's offensive line had no problem picking up Rob Ryan's blitzes. Willis McGahee and Ray Rice found running room early and often, and that allowed Joe Flacco to carve up a Browns secondary which spent most of the day on their heels. Cornerbacks Brandon McDonald and Eric Wright played well for the most part, but Flacco was afforded too much time against the Browns' zone coverages.

Offensively, anything that could have gone wrong - went wrong.

Brady Quinn started the game by doing exactly what we've seen him do for the past two weeks. Heading into today's game, Baltimore knew Quinn would play conservatively. Dominique Foxworth would eventually take advantage of this - intercepting Quinn's checkdown pass to Edwards. Under Quinn, the offense struggled to move the football and they finished the half without scoring any points.

Eric Mangini had seen enough and pulled his starting quarterback in favor of Derek Anderson.

He didn't fare much better.

Coming off the bench cold and trailing the Ravens by 20, Derek Anderson struggled. Anderson looked inaccurate and uncomfortable to begin the second half. He forced a few ill-advised passes into coverage - three of which resulted in interceptions.

Regardless of who lined up behind center, the Cleveland Browns seemed overwhelmed on the road against a dominant Ravens' offense.

Eric Mangini must find a way to rally this team together, because this has a look of an organization in disarray.

Ten From the Gentledawg

10. Dave Zastudil had a great game.

If there is anything we can take from this game, it is the continued outstanding play of the Cleveland Browns special teams. Cleveland's offensive futility meant a busy day for punter Dave Zastudil, and he answered the call. Zastudil and the Browns kick coverage unit averaged 51.0 yards per punt - an outstanding average considering the Browns punted 5 times today. Cleveland will have to rely on field position all season, and thankfully they have one of the most consistent punters in the game.

9. Eric Mangini is in danger of losing this team.

Earlier today, an ESPN report surfaced that several Browns players have filed grievances against Mangini for steep fines he's levied for non-football offenses. At least two of these grievances stem from an incident which occurred when Mangini fined a player $1,701 for allegedly stealing a water bottle. With the Browns' poor performance on the field and Mangini's heavy-handed coaching style, I wouldn't be surprised if that grumbling in the locker room becomes a little bit louder. Without results the show for it, Mangini's hard-nosed, authoritative personality simply does not work.

8. The Browns have major issues on defense.

Through the first two weeks of the regular season, I gave the Browns the benefit of the doubt in assessing them as a defense. After witnessing Joe Flacco and the Ravens have their way with the team, it is clear the Browns have major issues on that side of the ball. The most surprising part of this afternoon's loss was the play of the interior linebackers. Eric Barton struggled in coverage and D'Qwell Jackson did not have a good game. Baltimore spread the Browns out with three wide receiver sets, and Cleveland was unable to stop them.

7. Under Derek Anderson, the Browns showed signs of life.

Say what you will about the interceptions, but Derek Anderson was able to move the football down the field. At one point, Anderson took the Browns from the Cleveland 22 all the way to the Baltimore 6. Derek Anderson worked all three wide receivers into the game, and forced the aggressive Ravens to defend the entire field. He wasn't perfect, but Anderson took shots down the field and sustained a long drive which resulted in the lone Browns points of the day.

6. Jerome Harrison is an upgrade over Jamal Lewis.

Heading into the game, I thought the Jamal Lewis injury was a blessing in disguise for the Browns. Harrison has the quickness and vision you'd like to see from a feature back, and he was able to compensate for the lack of a consistent passing game. Harrison never saw playing time due to his inconsistency in pass protection, but there were no signs of that today. Although the score took the Browns out of running situations, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll should be pleased in what he's seen today from Harrison.

5. The Baltimore Ravens are one of the most complete teams in the NFL.

The Browns were not competitive today, and the Ravens were a big part of that. The gap in talent between these two teams was too much, and that showed up in the final score. Baltimore will be one of the most difficult places to play in the NFL this year.  The Browns performed poorly today, and it should stand for something that they played one of the best teams in the NFL on the road. The Ravens are a division opponent, so they'll eventually need to find a way to beat this team.

4. Billy Cundiff filled in admirably for Phil Dawson.

While he did not attempt any difficult field goals, Cundiff did exactly what you'd expect of a backup kicker. The 29-year-old Cundiff drilled the second-half kickoff deep into the end zone not once, but twice - demonstrating the strong leg you'd like to see from a kicker. Dawson should be ready to go next week, but it's certainly good to know the Browns have a seemingly capable kicker to handle the duties should something happen to Phil Dawson.

3. The Browns were beaten physically and mentally.

You could see it in their body language. The Browns had the look of a defeated football team, and some players may have already given up on the year. Shaun Rogers drew a personal foul after mixing it up with a Baltimore offensive guard. His reaction to the penalty was one of indifference than disgust. There were lots of hands on hips today. There was no passion. I have never seen a more worn out football team than this one at the end of a game.

2. The winless Browns might be the worst team in the NFL.

The Detroit Lions pulled off a remarkable victory against a talented Washington team at home. The Raiders have pushed the Chargers to the limit, and the Rams can actually score points on offense. Who is worse than the Browns? The defense has struggled, the offense is inept, and the leaders on this team are far too inconsistent for sustained success. The Cleveland Browns may be the worst team in the NFL.

1. One of these quarterbacks needs to go...and fast.

Benching Brady Quinn halfway through the game forces Eric Mangini to make an important decision. With all of the turmoil surrounding the team, a quarterback controversy will not help unify the lockerroom and maintain offensive continuity. The reality of the situation is this - both Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn are imperfect quarterbacks. Mangini must decide which passer he prefers, and then trade or release the other. Both quarterbacks seem to be playing scared in fear of their jobs. The only way to correct that is to demonstrate confidence in whichever passer he selects.

Posted on: June 9, 2009 1:24 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2009 5:39 pm

Derek Anderson Should Start For The Browns

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.


Posted on: May 27, 2009 5:12 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2009 6:26 pm

Browns Training Camp Battles

Several key position battles highlighted the beginning of organized team activity for the Cleveland Browns. New head coach Eric Mangini and his coaching staff have cleared the depth charts, eliminated bias, and promoted open competition at virtually every position. Drafted or undrafted, rookie or veteran, each player will have a chance to make an impact on the coaching staff and earn a spot on the roster.

Let the best man win.

While no roster spot is completely secure, some positions are more hotly contested than others. Here’s a look at the top 5 position battles heading into training camp.

5. Defensive end

In order to improve upon last year’s 28th rated rush defense, the Browns will need stout play along the defensive line from all 3 down linemen. Former Jets C.J. Mosley and Kenyon Coleman join Robaire Smith, Corey Williams, and Shaun Smith in a competition for the two end spots in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense.

Coleman and Mosley appear to be the odds on favorites due to their experience and success with Eric Mangini in New York. At 6’4, 320lbs, Corey Williams possesses the ideal bulk and strength for the position. He and Robaire Smith will need to prove themselves fully recovered from their season-ending surgeries to make a strong run at a starting position. Due to his confrontational demeanor, Shaun Smith has all but fallen out of this regime’s good graces. He will vie for a backup role with the team.

Projection : Kenyon Coleman and C.J. Mosley were part of a Jets rush defense which finished 7th overall in rush defense. Look for that experience to earn both players starting spots with the Browns this fall.

4. Wide receiver

Trading receiving threat Kellen Winslow to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers left the Browns shallow at an already thin position. Winslow’s size, hands, and toughness allowed the Browns to use the tight end as a receiver to create mismatches in the passing game. In light of Winslow's absence, Browns GM George Kokinis wasted little time in assembling a talented cast to help fill that void.

Braylon Edwards will continue to serve as the team’s primary receiver as he looks to regain his Pro Bowl form. Kokinis has turned to a pair of 2nd round receivers to step in alongside Edwards. Ohio State’s Brian Robiskie and Georgia’s Mohammed Massaquoi will compete for a starting position through training camp and the preseason. Both rookies have great size (6’3) and awareness to play split ends in Brian Daboll’s system. Newly acquired veterans Mike Furrey and David Patten will compete with Syndric Steptoe and Donte Stallworth for time in the slot. The ever-dangerous Josh Cribbs may see time as a receiver depending on where he best fits into the system.

Braylon Edwards will need some help if the Browns want to win in 2009.

Projection : It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Brian Robiskie doesn’t see immediate action on the field. His father, a receiver coach in the NFL, has worked with him and developed the OSU standout into one of the most polished receivers coming out of college. His size, route running, and intelligence should give him the nod over Massaquoi, who will provide the Browns with depth in his first year out of Georgia. Mike Furrey has made a name for himself as a slot receiver, so look for him to get the start in the slot.

3. Center

When Eric Mangini took over the Jets, the first move he made was to find a premiere left tackle to go along with a dominant center. That blueprint allowed Mangini to turn the then 4-12 Jets into a 10-6 playoff contender within one season. For the Browns to achieve similar success, Mangini will need a center to match up alongside Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas.

Incumbent Hank Fraley will try to fend off first round draft choice Alex Mack and hold on to his role as a starter. Fraley isn’t the dominant center he once was with the Eagles years ago, but he still possesses the intelligence to make all the calls up front. His three years in Cleveland have enabled the 10-year veteran to establish chemistry with the other offensive linemen – something that can not be taken for granted.

Projection : Eric Mangini and his coaching staff seem to value size and strength in offensive lineman. That bodes well for rookie Alex Mack, as he possesses the edge in both those departments. However, Mangini favors intelligence over strength, and Fraley’s experience in the AFC North should give him the edge heading into the regular season. He will start for the Browns.

2. Outside linebacker

Outside linebacker is said to be the most important position in the 3-4 defense. Defensive pressure created through a tenacious pass rush forces opposing offenses into mistakes and subsequently causes turnovers. The Cleveland Browns have struggled with this for years. In order for Rex Ryan’s defense to be successful, two outside linebackers will need to emerge as legitimate pass rushing specialists.

Eric Mangini brought David Bowens along with him from New York to compete for a starting spot. Bowens is a smart player with limited upside, but his presence ensures Cleveland will have solid play from at least one of the linebacker positions. Kamerion Wimbley has seen a drop-off in production, partially due to Mel Tucker’s defensive scheme and a suspect secondary play. Cornerbacks Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald have gained an additional year of starting experience. This should allow Rex Ryan the confidence to commit several linebackers to the quarterback and generate the pass rush this team sorely needs.

Projection : Kamieron Wimbley will likely start as the team’s weak side outside linebacker. Rookie David Veikune will compete with Bowens for the job, however it is unlikely either player will prevail. Second year player Alex Hall looks to be the favorite to start on the strong side. The physically imposing 7th round pick from St. Augustine’s has really impressed the coaching staff thus far. He has worked with the first team defense for the majority of OTAs, so don’t be surprised if he lines up for Cleveland on opening day.

1. Quarterback

The quarterback competition will undoubtedly determine how the Browns fare in 2009. Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson have much to prove to the new coaching staff. From here on out, every throw, decision, and read will be heavily scrutinized by offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, quarterback coach Carl Smith, and head coach Eric Mangini. At some point before the preseason, all three men will come together and decide which player is the best fit for the Cleveland Browns.

Derek Anderson's NFL experience should give him the edge over Brady Quinn.

Projection : When Eric Mangini evaluates a player during a press conference, he refers to what he saw when he coached against him as a member of the New York Jets. In 2007, Derek Anderson threw for two scores and led the Browns to victory over Mangini’s Jets. During the 2008 preseason, Anderson completed 4 of 5 passes and a touchdown against the Jets last season. Derek Anderson has more starting experienced than Brady Quinn, and in the end that will be the difference in the competition.

Posted on: April 5, 2009 1:43 pm
Edited on: April 6, 2009 12:41 pm

Cutler's Cost Could Benefit Browns

Jay Cutler’s trade to the Chicago Bears could have implications on how much the Browns receive should they decide to trade quarterback Derek Anderson.

In a copycat league where precedent is as much a part of reality as anything else, don’t be surprised if Cleveland receives as much as a first round selection if they decide to trade Derek Anderson before this year's NFL Draft.

Thursday’s blockbuster deal between the Denver Broncos and the Chicago Bears sent shockwaves around the football world. In exchange for Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler and a fifth round selection, the Denver Broncos received the Bears’ 2009 first and third round selections in addition to a first round selection in 2010 and quarterback Kyle Orton.

In his third year out of Vanderbilt, Cutler is coming off his best season as a pro. Under Mike Shanahan, Cutler threw for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns to go along with 18 interceptions. Derek Anderson's only full season as a starter produced comparable results. In 2007, Anderson threw for 3,787 yards with 29 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

The similarities between Jay Cutler and Derek Anderson are uncanny. Both are strong armed quarterbacks entering their 3rd full seasons as starters in the NFL. The two 25-year-old quarterbacks have made the Pro Bowl once, but have no playoff experience to speak of. Denver's offensive system and Cleveland's miserable 2008 season skew the statistical comparison toward Cutler, but both players have the tools to succeed at this level.


Chicago paid a king's ransom for Cutler. Could Anderson be next?





Posted on: November 30, 2008 4:22 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2008 4:42 pm

Week 13: Browns Paper Bags

Have you ever finished watching a football game and had a sinking feeling in your stomach? That was exactly how I felt after watching the Cleveland Browns squander an opportunity to salvage an embarrassment of a season.

The Colts were held in check by a great gameplan and some timely plays made by defenders. There was no reason for the Browns to lose this home game, but they did. The loss drops the Brownies to 4-8, officially making us one of the worst teams in the AFC.

The Good
  • It is a little known fact, but D’Qwell Jackson actually leads the NFL in solo tackles. Jackson played another great game today – making solid tackles and playing a fundamentally sound game.
  • Brandon McDonald also played very well in this losing effort. Reggie Wayne made his share of plays, but McDonald for the most part showed good technique and covered the Pro Bowler well.
  • Game Management: Romeo Crennel played the final minutes of the Colts’ final drive masterfully. He made the correct decision in running the clock down and conserving his two timeouts. Penalties were a non-factor, so this one was decided on the field.
The Bad
  • Derek Anderson: Whether it was the wind or not, Anderson did not look very accurate. A majority of the passes were either thrown behind or below receivers. Anderson’s pocket presence for the most part was OK, but his fumble returned for a touchdown proved to be the difference in the game – and in the end that’s what people will remember.
  • Jamal Lewis: The game plan called for a heavy dosage of the running game and Jamal was not there to answer the call. If it wasn’t clear before, Jamal Lewis has obviously lost his status as an elite runner. He hesitates in the backfield and shows terrible vision as a runner. A “power back” like Jamal should have had a field day against the under-sized Colt linebackers. He did not generate push – and that ultimately was the difference in this contest.
The Ugly
  • The Cleveland Browns organization as a whole is looking very ugly. Aside from literally 7 people, this has the look of a very average ball club. Browns fans are a very loyal, well-meaning group, but they are generally some of the most fickle fans in the NFL. Fans cry for “smashmouth football” yet boo when the team commits to the run. I don’t understand it, and I never will.

This was pathetic.

You know what? I want every Browns fan reading this to break out the brown paper bags, because this team is embarrassing. Quite frankly I’m disgusted to be a Browns fan. There are so many things wrong with the team that I don't even know where to begin. Maybe if I just close my eyes, this will all go away...
Posted on: November 26, 2008 6:40 am
Edited on: November 26, 2008 7:05 am

A Golden Boy No More: Quinn Out For Season

The Plain Dealer among other news sources is reporting Brady Quinn is done for the rest of the year.

And I for some reason, I can not stop smiling.

Only in Cleveland. Add Brady Quinn's name to a list of top-tier talent which includes Courtney Brown, Kellen Winslow, LeCharles Bentley, and Joe Jurevicius. What do those players all have in common? They are prominent Browns who have showed promise and given fans something to cheer about. They've inspired hope within a city desperate for a winner. They made us believe - even for one second - that good things might just come to a city that has waited over 40 years for an NFL championship.

The comedy of the situation does not stop there.

Back in April when General Manager Phil Savage refused to trade Derek Anderson, people openly questioned whether such a decision was right for the immediate success of the Browns. Savage held firm in his decision, stressing the importance of having two able-bodied quarterbacks on the roster. He mentioned how unpredictable the league is, and how depth is critical at such an important position.

Just where do they sell those crystal balls?

Quinn's departure opens the door for Derek Anderson - a door which should not have been closed in the first place. If Derek happens to be reading this, I have two words for you my friend:

Carpe Diem!

These next 5 games will ultimately determine the path Anderson's career will take with the Browns or otherwise. Derek Anderson has demonstrated the ability to be a franchise quarterback. He's played up and down all season - leading to a loss of his job.

Now is the time for DA to make good on all 24 million of those promises to the Cleveland Browns. Many players in the NFL are not afforded a second opportunity to prove their worth. Let's wait and see exactly how Derek answers the call this time around.

It has been said before, but quarterback controversies have a way of working themselves out. Derek Anderson has one last shot to prove himself a capable starting quarterback. If Anderson can utilize the experience he's accumulated over the past few years and turn it into success, things will become very interesting in Browns Town.

And just maybe you'll be smiling too.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com