Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Quarterback Quiz: Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Oranges, who decided that orange was a spiffier color to have on a football helmet than brown and to hell with what the name said (they added a brown stripe as an afterthought) got their sixth Pro Bowler this week when Tom Brady chickened out of pulled out of the contest to rest his wounded ego ankle. QB Derek Anderson joins teammates Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow, Joe Thomas, Joshua Cribbs, and Ryan Pontbriand in Hawaii this weekend, where he too will be wearing an orange helmet that does not have a logo on it, not even a fancy-pants B or anything. Unlike them, however, Derek Anderson gets his own preview, which they do not. Nyah. *

* Not entirely true, he has to share it with this guy.

Cleveland Browns (10-6): Derek Anderson

The 24-year-old Anderson is still young and relatively inexperienced (this year was his first year as a full-time starter after ousting aging incumbent Charlie Frye, who was traded to the Seahawks) but has shown enough to be rewarded with a Pro Bowl selection. He put up numbers of 29 TDs against 19 picks, 3,787 yards, a 56.5 completion percentage, and a solid 82.5 rating, and since he is young and more than serviceable, one wonders when everybody's favorite target, Brady Quinn, will be seeing field time, or if Quinn will eventually end up being a starter on another team. (His whole sordid story, from slipping in the draft to contract holdout, is well-known, and although I'm sure he's a perfectly nice fellow, I still enjoy laughing at his expense, particularly his various incriminating photos and cheesy EAS energy drink endorsements. Yo, Brady, try waiting until you're actually the starter on an NFL team, and in that last picture? Yeah, you look like Kronk).

Anyway, I swear I'll be serious tonight, although I am in a bit of a punchy mood. My proclivities for laughing at young Brady Lite aside, a lot of teams wish they had the Browns' "dilemma" of choosing between two young and talented quarterbacks. Everyone knows that Quinn went to Notre Dame; Anderson is a product of Oregon State. In three years in the Beaver program, he guided them to records of 8-5, 8-5, and 7-5, playing in three bowls, the Insight twice and Las Vegas once. (In the second Insight Bowl, in his senior year of 2004, the Beavers and Anderson coincidentally faced -- and beat -- the Fighting Irish and Quinn, 38-21, helped along by 359 yards, 4 TD, and no interceptions from Anderson). In 2003, he set an Oregon State record with 4,058 passing yards, and also holds the record for most passing yards overall at 11,249 for his career. Despite this, he fell to the sixth round, where he was taken 213th overall by the Baltimore Ravens in 2005. However, he didn't play for them and was waived on September 20 of that year; the Browns scooped him up the very next day. Considering that Kyle Boller and Steve McNair are Baltimore's current options at quarterback, one imagines that decision hurts a little. Then again, they do have former Heisman winner Troy Smith, who couldn't develop fast enough to save Brian Billick's ass. At least the Ravens can always count on the Orioles being worse than they are, and they've won a championship and a few division titles in the last decade, something the Orioles cannot say similarly.

A big quarterback at 6'6/230 lb (some speculated he would play basketball instead of football in college) Anderson nonetheless runs well, recorded three rushing TDs this year, and scrambled for 33 yards in overtime against the Kansas City Chiefs last season to set up the Browns' come-from-behind 31-28 victory. (He rushed 32 times for 70 yards this year, averaging 2.2 yards an attempt, which was useful in quarterback-sneak and short-yardage situations). He has a very strong arm and an ever-evolving awareness of receiver sets, but in college was criticized as being too much of a pocket passer and making too many poor decisions under pressure. A year in the NFL has helped with some of those flaws (and nobody's perfect. Not even you, Patriots. Yes, I'm still enjoying that) and so did a professional O-line guarding him, as Anderson was sacked just 14 times and fumbled 5 times, losing two. Since his skills are still evolving, he's now a Pro Bowler even if it was only on ceremony when Brady stepped down, he led the Browns to their best record since 1994, and he's young and improving, look for him to stay in this spot for several more years. Unless that EAS stuff really is as good as advertised, Brady Quinn turns into the Incredible Hulk, and starts smashing it up. You never know.

1 comment:

zapparulez said...

I think the Browns would do well to trade Quinn for another first round draft pick. Don't do what the Chargers did when they dumped Brees for Rivers. ;)

Or maybe they should do what the Chargers did and dump Anderson and go with Quinn. Maybe that will push the Browns to 14-2! lol