Saturday, July 5, 2008

Who Can QB? - Revisited

The one topic that just won’t go away for the Cleveland Browns and their fans is the never-ending Derek Anderson versus Brady Quinn debate.

Prior to last season when the position was in total chaos I broke down the pro and cons of Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn and the incumbent starter, Charlie Frye.

Here is what I said about Anderson and Quinn prior to last year (I’ll spare you the Charlie Frye analysis):

Derek Anderson
Height: 6'-6"
Weight: 230
College: Oregon State

“Started 38 consecutive games for the Beavers on his was to becoming the school's all time leader in passing yardage and touchdowns culminating in a 38-21 defeat of Notre Dame in the 2004 Insight Bowl where he was named the game MVP. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the 6th Round of the 2005 NFL Draft. The Browns claimed him in Week 3 of the '05 season when the Ravens placed him on waivers in hopes of stashing him on their practice squad.

Prototypical size for NFL quarterback. Above average mobility despite his lanky frame. Quick, accurate release. Strong arm with plenty of zip on the football. Stays in the pocket under pressure and is shifty enough to dodge and shrug off potential tacklers. Intelligent player with a good football senses.

Became too predictable to the opposing defense with each passing start. Defences were able to disguise coverages very effectively causing him to be confused and throw into coverage more often that not. Sometimes too much of a gunslinger as he seemed prone to the interception when trying to force throws. Unable to make an effective read off the line of scrimmage which leads him to lock onto one receiver.

DA seems to have all the "tools" to be an effective NFL quarterback. Whether or not he can refine those tools into being an effective NFL quarterback is yet to be seen. He seemed to thrive in the back-up QB role by single handedly winning the Kansas City game and being the only man to show up for the Thursday night game in Pittspuke. Needs to work the mental side of quarterbacking to succeed long term. I see him being the prototypical back-up QB who can come into the game in relief or make a spot start and thrive but I think his tendencies make him too predictable to be the long term starter.”

Brady Quinn
Height: 6'-3"
Weight: 226
College: Notre Dame

“As a three year starter for the Fighting Irish, shattered 36 school records including career pass attempts, completions, yards, yards per game, touchdown passes, and lowest interception percentage. Won 29 games as a starter which is tied for most in school history. Ranks in the top ten in NCAA Division I history in career pass attempts, passing yards, and touchdown passes. Was selected in the 1st Round of the 2007 NFL Draft (22nd overall) by the Browns.

Just like Charlie Frye, Quinn is Cleveland born and Cleveland bred so he too lives, dies and bleeds orange and brown. Perfect college pedigree after studying under offensive guru Charlie Weis his last two years at Notre Dame. Played in an NFL style system under Weis and thrived in it. Extremely intelligent as he graduated from ND with a double major in Finance and Political Science and was one of the highest scorers on the pre-draft Wonderlic Test given to every draft prospect. Prototypical size for NFL QB, very athletic and calm in the pocket. May have a chip on his shoulder after 21 other teams passed on him in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Seems to lack accuracy at times on throws to the sideline or down the field. Wears his emotions on his sleeve at times which some consider to be a lack of confidence and leadership. Many of his statistics in college came versus what many believe to be sub-par talent due to the weak schedule Notre Dame carried as an independent program. Suffers from a supposed big game stigma as he failed to win a Bowl Game or a game against a top ranked program during his entire college career. A work out freak, which some consider to be a bad trait for quarterbacks as they need more arm and shoulder flexibility and less muscle mass.

Brady Quinn seems to be the national media whipping boy. From his demeanor at the NFL Draft to his hair style it seems everyone loves to hate Brady... He is not in the same league as JaMarcus Russell... He played against inferior talent... He can't win the big game...

But isn't this the guy who was the consensus #1 pick if he would have come out after his Junior year in 2006? Isn't this the same guy who would have beaten USC if Reggie Bush hadn't illegally pushed Matt Leinart into the end zone in 2006? Isn't this the same guy who has put up monster numbers against top college level talent only to have his defense give up 40+ points and lose?

I'm not saying Brady Quinn is the next Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer or Tom Brady. But I don't think he's the next Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf or Tim Couch. I do think that he will be a more than solid NFL QB for years to come due to his work ethic, determination and desire to prove his doubters wrong.

Now despite all his tools and talent, the NFL game is a totally different speed that the NCAA. Unless he just plays like gang busters in training camp he should not start the season as QB1. Even though the Browns have improved their O-Line and have weapons that neither Tim Couch or Charlie Frye had in their rookie seasons, I get the vibe that Quinn will need some time to adjust to the NFL game (a la Carson Palmer or Steve McNair).

The last thing the Browns need to do is ruin another rookie QB like Couch or Frye, especially one that actually has a ton of talent. Quinn needs to learn for a year or so. Play here or there in 2007 when the situation allow it and build for launch in 2008. The 2007 Cleveland Browns do not have a large chance to be a factor in the NFL. The 2008 Cleveland Browns do. Especially now that they have their "Franchise QB" on their roster.

And for those who say the Browns gave up too much for him with the 2008 1st round draft pick... the only two "top tier" QBs coming out in 2008 are Brian Brohm of Louisville and Colt Brennan of Hawaii. I will take Brady Quinn over them in a heartbeat.”

We all know how it panned out. Frye and Anderson looked awful in the pre-season while Quinn shined against opponents B and C Squads. Frye started the season opening day debacle against the Steelers, was benched after less than a half and traded before Week 2. Anderson stepped in and pulled off one of the most amazing out-of-nowhere stories in the NFL regulating Quinn to the bench for all but ten plays in the season finale in the process.

Despite the amazing 2007 and being the incumbent starter, there are some who think Anderson is a fluke and that Quinn is the better player. Browns GM Phil Savage re-upped Anderson for another three years, but odds are 2008 will be the last year the two will co-exist. Anderson is the man, barring any sort of injury or complete nosedive, and he should be.

Until then, Quinn is regulated to clipboard duty and studying film with Browns’ 3rd QB Ken Dorsey. We can only hope that his intense work ethic and dedication can push Anderson to continue to improve as well. According to reports by ESPN’s John Clayton from Browns’ mini-camp, Quinn did just that.

That’s all The Golden Boy can do because, like it or not, Derek Anderson is the man for the Cleveland Browns at quarterback… for now.

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