Derek Anderson will start against the Bengals

Derek Anderson 1

The Plain Dealer is reporting that Derek Anderson will get the start at quarterback for the Browns against the Bengals.

This is the right call. After watching the first three games, I don’t think Eric Mangini had much of a choice. I supported the decision to start Brady Quinn, and I fully expected him to get a fair shot to show what he could do. I think Mangini expected to give Quinn plenty of time as well. Unfortunately, Quinn has been absolutely terrible. After watching the first three games, it’s hard to imagine how Quinn ever becomes a consistent starter in the NFL.

NFL coaches are often criticized for becoming enamored with big-arm quarterbacks, but after watching Quinn for several games, followed by just one half by Anderson, it becomes very clear why arm strength is critical. NFL quarterbacks have to be able to consistently hit receivers on the deep out pattern, and they have to be able to rifle passes down field. Without that, defenses can cheat by having a safety play up in the box, which then places great pressure on the running game. Quinn has trouble making those throws, but even worse, he will usually pass up opportunities down field and take the easy dump-off throw.

We were having similar conversations last season with a different offense and different coordinators. Was the offensive scheme different for Brady Quinn? Were the Browns going more with a short-pass strategy when Quinn was in the game? The coaching staff always said that was not the case. I didn’t really believe them last season, but now we’ve been seeing the same thing.

As soon as Derek Anderson entered the game, it looked like we had a completely different offense. Anderson was able to get the ball down field, and he was able to move the offense.

Now, we all know that Anderson has his own problems, and the three interceptions looked terrible. But at least coaches can work with him on those problems, and at least the defenses will now have to respect his arm. With Quinn, however, no amount of coaching is going to improve his arm strength or accuracy on the loner throws. With time he might gain some confidence and be more aggressive with his first or second option, but the opposite seems to be happening.

With Quinn, there seemed to be little upside, and we ran the risk of having the entire season become a disaster. Other players would also be affected. The young receivers wouldn’t develop as fast if Quinn wasn’t getting them the ball. The running game would also be a huge problem as defenses would continue to crowd the box and dare Quinn to throw deep.

Mangini did what he had to do. Now let’s hope Anderson takes advantage of the opportunity.

Photo by Bill Moore. Copyright Bullz-Eye.com, LLC.

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Don’t get too excited about the first preseason game

Eric Mangini should be pissed off. He’s the coach and it’s his job to hammer his team when they don’t play well. The Browns made plenty of mistakes against the Packers, and Mangini will have plenty of work to do.

That said, everyone else will overreact to this first preseason game. The talk radio guys will do their thing, and the angry callers will chime in as well. All of this means nothing.

There are only several important things to take from this for Browns fans. First, you don’t build a team overnight, so early mistakes are to be expected. The key is whether Mangini helps the team learn from their mistakes. Given his past history on team penalties, we can expect the Browns to make progress here.

More importantly, however, is the quarterback situation. Most of us think Brady Quinn will win the starting job, so we should get too worked up watching Derek Anderson repeat mistakes we’ve grown accustomed to over the past several years. Ratliff’s performance is even less relevant.

But Quinn’s performance is important, and he moved the team on both of his two drives. He was comfortable in the pocket and he made solid decisions. He should have had a field goal on the first drive, and he would have had a touchdown before the half running the two-minute offense if stone hands Edwards hadn’t dropped a perfectly thrown ball from Quinn. On the next play Brady made a bad throw and threw a stupid interception, but that play never should have happened.

The kid can play. None of us knows how good he can be, but Browns fans should feel good about the fact that they have a young quarterback with talent who has two years of learning under his belt. Quinn should be ready, and the quarterback competition is probably a good thing. By the time this is over there should be little doubt that Quinn earned his job, and that will make it easier for him to grow into the job without looking over his shoulder.

So, don’t get too riled up about this first game.

Derek Anderson to the Jets?

I have no idea if these rumors are true, but some are speculating that the Browns are shopping Derek Anderson and that the Jets might be interested.

So the Browns are reportedly shopping Derek Anderson. At least one analyst at ESPN has even go so far as to say the Browns will be looking for at least a second-round pick for the quarterback. I think it’s pretty safe to say that a second-rounder is probably the high trade value for Anderson right now though.

Actually, Anderson is a perplexing problem for the Browns. He has shown signs of inconsistency and mental lapses, but these are things that can be drilled in order to fix. He has the arm strength and athleticism to be a great quarterback if his problems can be limited.

He’s also owed $5 million by March as a guaranteed roster bonus. To put it simply, the Browns need to decide if it’s worth investing the money to try and train this guy while Brady Quinn still sits in the wings.

So who might be willing to take a chance on this guy when the Browns are reportedly asking so much. In the matter of about 48 hours, the New York Jets have become a great possibility.

I suspect that George Kokinis knows now whether he wants to keep Anderson. His job with the Ravens involved evaluating NFL talent, particularly opposing players.

Right now I’m comfortable either way. Keeping Anderson gives them some options and some insurance in case Quinn gets hurt. Trading him would send a clear message that Quinn is the quarterback and helps to avoid any drama in training camp. If they can get a #2 pick, they should probably deal him.