Posted on: January 4, 2010 12:00 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2010 12:12 pm
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Posted on: June 9, 2009 1:24 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2009 5:39 pm
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
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 endIn 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 receiverTrading 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. CenterWhen 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 linebackerOutside 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. QuarterbackThe 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.