Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Brady Quinn Conundrum

The Cleveland Browns disappointing 2008 got even more disappointing with the news that quarterback Brady Quinn would be placed on Injured Reserve with a damaged tendon in the index finger on his throwing hand. Currently, there is no decision on whether or not Quinn will require surgery to repair the finger.

Quinn originally injured the finger in the Week 11 Monday night tilt against the Buffalo Bills. It was in that game where he fractured the tip of his right, index finger. He was cleared to play in this past Sunday's game against the Houston Texans where he was pulled by head coach Romeo Crennel in favor of deposed starter Derek Anderson.

You have to give credit to Quinn for playing through the injury, but in hindsight the decision turned out to be poor. It now leaves the Browns in a pickle when it comes to their quarterback situation in 2009.

Quinn only was able to muster three starts. He had a great statistical debut, but a loss, in Week 10 versus the Denver Broncos when he benefitted from a porous Broncos defense and solid game plan.

He followed that up with a below average game against Buffalo where he was not great statistically but was able to make plays when he needed to in leading the Browns to a victory. Sunday, against Houston, he had a very poor game before being benched in favor of Anderson.

The remainder of 2008 was mostly about developing Brady Quinn to see if he could be the man for 2009. Now that evaluation process is put on hold. The problem that presents the Browns is that they are going to have to make a decision on Quinn with very little data to analyze.

The Browns pretty much know what they have in Anderson. A tall, strong armed quarterback who can make all the throws but struggles mightily with consistency and decision making. When the pressure is off Anderson is at his best. When the pressure is on Anderson is at his worst.

The Browns have had 11 starting quarterbacks in the ten years since their reincarnation and desperately needs to stabilize the position. Losing the time to evaluate Quinn hurts in that endeavour.

Do they commit to him with only three pro starts under his belt? Do they try and have he and Anderson coexist for another season? Do they have an open competition next year in Trainign Camp?

It all leads to a giant conundrum for the Cleveland Browns.

For now they can only hope that Quinn heals up and is 100% for OTAs in the spring and that Anderson can play well enough in the last five games of the season to increase his trade value if they decide to go that route. But for now, all that Cleveland is left with is another disappointment.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Browns Table: A Texas Sized Letdown

Welcome to The Browns Table, a season-long look at the 2008 season for the Cleveland Browns from the point of view of the Browns fans here on Bleacher Report.

This discussion is not just meant for the contributing Browns fans. Please feel free to comment on any of the questions or any of our answers below.

We welcome any comments and an open discussion about the Browns below. If you would like a seat at the table leave me a note on my profile and we will try and get you in the rotation.

As always thanks to Browns fans Eric Lawhead and Michael Taylor for their contributions this week.

The guys lament another disappointing performance by the team and discuss where the Browns go from here. Let’s talk Browns football.

The Browns fell to the Houston Texans, 16-6, on Sunday. The performance was bad to put it nicely. What was the worst part of the Browns performance?

Eric Lawhead:
Quarterback play. When your two quarterbacks combine to go 13-32 with 0 TD and 3 INT, it means bad day and worse result. The Texans only scored 16 points. The Browns with the offensive firepower they are capable of, they should be able to beat a team scoring 16 points. They got a whopping 95 yards rushing as well. Not good against a team with a pretty bad back up in Sage Rosenfels.

Jeff Smirnoff:
It was the fact that the Browns could do nothing against a bad football team who was sporting one of the worst defenses in the NFL and a turnover prone offense. It was a horrible performance in all phases of the game. This team fails to learn anything from previous weeks and continues to spin its wheels. The Texans gave the Browns plenty of opportunities to stay in and ever take over the game and the Browns just gave it right back to them each time.

Michael Taylor:
I don't even know where to we begin by looking at how Sage Rosenfels looked like a Pro Bowler, how Kellen Winslow disappeared, how Braylon Edwards dropped a million passes, or how Brady was benched to see if Derek had a hot hand today?

To me, just the entire second half of the game was an embarrassment. There was no fire in the team. It was sloppy, and if the Texans could have "finished" the game, it would have been a route.

Brady Quinn did not play well and was replaced by Derek Anderson. Should Quinn have been pulled despite is rough day?

Eric Lawhead:
Quinn should have never started. He has a fracture in a pretty important finger in his throwing hand. A broken pinky kept Tony Romo out for 3 weeks! Why would you play a guy who is needed to manage the game and throw crisp precise passes to keep the defense away from the ball? Anderson should have started and at least gave them a starting chance to throw the ball against a bad Texans pass defense.

Jeff Smirnoff:
Absolutely not. Anderson should have been pulled against Cincinnati and Washington where he was performing much worse than Quinn did versus Houston. It just shows the lack of leadership on the team from the owner to the GM to the head coach and the double standards exist. Was Quinn having a bad game? Yes and that’s being kind, but you have to see how he can develop and overcome adversity.

Michael Taylor:
At first I was ok with the change, thinking that the broken finger had something to do with the change. Though, just seconds later, we saw BQ upset on the sideline that he was pulled, obviously his finger was not the issue. Because of that and his comments after the game, I don't understand the move. How is he supposed to learn to work through adversity in this league if his coach doesn't show any confidence in him? Talk about a slap in the face. Derek makes mistakes for half a season, and a couple of passes in the third quarter for picks and Quinn is pulled. The change has been made, Quinn is the future. Let him learn and play.

Braylon Edwards continued to drop passes at an alarming rate. Kellen Winslow had his obligatory offensive pass interference penalty. Which of the two has been the bigger disappointment this year?

Eric Lawhead:
Edwards is more disappointing this season. Everyone is going to say Winslow, because of his attitude and what not. But with what kind of number Edwards put up last season, it is painful to watch him not produce. Now to give him the benefit of the doubt, the offense, mainly the quarterback play has not helped him this season. Anderson is not the same Anderson that gave him the opportunity he had last season. It's just frustrating to watch him not produce when he's given any opportunity.

Jeff Smirnoff:
On the field, Edwards. Off the field, Winslow. Edwards seems to lose focus on a week to week basis. I still think many of his troubles are mental and not physical. The drops can be cured, the question is does he have the mental toughness to overcome them. Winslow has been plagued by injuries this year but the return of his loose lips after a quiet 2007 make me wonder if he really wants to be here.

Michael Taylor:
Braylon by far. I don't even know what to think of it anymore. As pointed out Sunday, he is running poor routes and is dropping passes at an alarming rate. He just looks lackadaisical out there. I just don't see the same guy that was a force last season. I wasn't expecting 16 TD's again, but I figured 1,000 yards and 8-10 TD's would have been a lock. That can still happen, but it will be very tough.

The Browns are now 4-7. The play-offs are pretty much impossible to attain. What should the goal for the team for the rest of 2008?

Eric Lawhead:
Develop Brady Quinn and fire Romeo Crennel now! Quinn is first and foremost. He needs to learn the system in the game. He needs to learn to make better decisions and learn what it takes to learn on the fly and be and NFL quarterback. Romeo on the other hand will just bring down any sense of talent on this team for the rest of the season. Fire him now, so they can work out a deal with Cowher and then ride the season out and fire Phil Savage and give it all to the Steeler-man himself.

Jeff Smirnoff:
Develop Brady Quinn to see if he is the franchise quarterback that this team sorely needs. See if some of the younger talent like Martin Rucker, Beau Bell, Jerome Harrison, etc. can be key pieces in building a foundation for next season. See how some of the younger veterans (i. e. Edwards and Winslow) handle themselves the rest of the year to see if they should be retained or traded.

Michael Taylor:
To me, I could care less how the remaining games go in the win-loss column. I just want to see this team go out, compete, and not make so many mistakes. I just want to see clean, competitive football. Not this sloppy, penalty-ridden, poor tackling, frustrating brand of football that we have witnessed this season.

The Browns also need to just let Brady play and play through tough situations. Everything was and is not going to be easy for him. He has to learn on the job while the pressure is off of him in terms of having to win games right now. Then based on how he does the Browns can then make a better decision in the off-season on what to do at the quarterback position.

E-mail Gate: Browns GM Phil Savage fired off a profane e-mail to a fan after the Buffalo game. What is your take on the situation as it came down?

Eric Lawhead:
Two sides to my take. First being the public figure Savage is. He should never write something like that. He should have just taken the e-mail and deleted it and forgot about it. There is no need to fire back at a fan they are the ones paying the money to see your team suffer. Second being the real person Savage is. That was human nature to do what he did. Most all of us, if we got an e-mail or letter going after the way we do our job and the company we are employed by, would fire right back at them. It's just the way most everyone is. We would defend our stance and our situation. The winning vote is the first, Savage is a public figure. He should have never done what he did. But it's over and he will not be employed by the Cleveland Browns for the 2009-2010 season.

Jeff Smirnoff:
It was totally unprofessional and embarrassing but it ultimately will not be the reason that he may lose his job at the end of the year. The fact that he even felt the urge to reply to that e-mail when he probably gets thousands of them every week is ridiculous. It’s just another blemish on the Browns organization as a whole. We are one of the laughingstocks of the NFL and have been since they returned.

Michael Taylor:
I think that this whole issue is just silly and simply a microcosm of what this season has become. Only the Browns could have such a ludicrous problem as this. While I do not appreciate what Savage did, as I believe a part of being in front office management is remaining professional in all facets of the job, I will not bash him for doing it. I would just hope in the future that he would not be reading such garbage in his email inbox. Why was he reading these emails anyway?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bumbling Browns Fall to Texans, 16-6

Breaking news, the 2008 Cleveland Browns are not a good football them. If anyone had any doubt of that or were holding on to faint play-off hopes were rudely awakened Sunday afternoon versus the Houston Texans.

Houston had not won a road game in over a calendar year but thanks to five Cleveland turnovers they were able to end that skid with a 16-6 victory in a contest that wasn’t that close.

The Texans took the opening kick-off and effortlessly drove 79 yards for a 7-0 lead. Journeyman back-up quarterback Sage Rosenfels picked apart the sieve-like Browns defense hitting receivers Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter at will.

Walter caught a 17 yard corner route for a touchdown burning much maligned cornerback Brandon McDonald for a 7-0 Texans. Rosenfels went 6-7 on the opening drive as the Texans ate up over eight minutes on their opening drive.

The Browns responded on their first drive of the afternoon in the only way they know how. A Kellen Winslow drop, a penalty and a Jamal Lewis fumble to give the ball back to the Texans. Rosenfels and Walter continue to hook-up over the middle of the field but the Browns defense managed to hold the Texans to a Kris Brown field goal.

The Browns dusted off running back Jerome Harrison on the next drive and managed to put a Phil Dawson on the board. Shaun Rogers blocked a Texans field goal to keep the game at 10-3 and the Dawson delivered another field goal to cut the lead to 10-6.

Former Brown Andre Davis returned the subsequent kick-off for a touchdown but it was called back for a holding penalty. No matter as Rosenfels once again found Johnson and Walter time and time again, including two fourth down conversions, and Brown poked through his second field goal for a 13-6 Houston advantage.

Then, in what could only be a sign of things to come later in the game, the Browns somehow muffed the ensuing allowing Brown to attempt a 56 yard field goal with one second left. Brown missed, but the fact that the Texans even had the opportunity was embarrassing.

The halftime score was 13-6 but the Texans had dominated the first half, holding the ball for almost 21 minutes. The Houston running game was held in check but Rosenfels was having a career day throwing the ball.

Cleveland went three and out to start the half but were given a lifeline when Rosenfels returned to his sometimes turnover prone form as Brodney Pool picked him off on the Texans opening drive. But Browns’ quarterback Brady Quinn returned the favor and the Texans turned the Browns second turnover into another Brown field goal and a 16-6 lead.

Quinn drove the Browns into the red zone but was picked off for the second time on an attempted slant to Braylon Edwards. The Texans were forced to punt for the first time in the game and Romeo Crennel sent in Derek Anderson at quarterback.

Some reports said Quinn was pulled due to reinjuring his index finger that he chipped a bone in last week. Others said Quinn was pulled due to performance and had some choice words at the decision.

If the later is true, it is a curious move as there were more than a handful of games where Anderson was not performing well and Romeo Crennel stuck with him rather than go to Quinn. Quinn was having a poor game, but the double standard that may have been in effect does raise a few eyebrows.

Anderson fared no better than Quinn as the Browns imploded from that point forward. Edwards continued to drop the football, Winslow got his obligatory offensive pass interference penalty and the normally reliable Dawson shanked a makeable field that could have cut the lead to 7.

Rosenfels teased the Cleveland faithful by throwing another pick to Browns’ safety Sean Jones that was returned into Houston territory. But Jamal Lewis missed a handoff from Anderson and the Browns committed their fifth turnover of the game and sealed their seventh loss of the season.

Any play-off hopes for the Browns are effectively done as the now sit at 4-7, 3-5 in the AFC and 1-3 in the AFC North. After going 7-1 at Cleveland Browns Stadium in 2007 the Browns are a lowly 1-5 at home in 2008.

The Browns continually fall flat on their faces after a win, this time falling to a 3-7 football team starting their back-up quarterback. They are now staring down another potential ten loss season which would be their sixth in the ten years since their reincarnation. Unfortunately, that make be the only realistic goal the team may have for the rest of 2008.