Well, I had this article ¾ of the way written, and suddenly the Powers That BeTM announce that Brady Quinn will be starting in place of Derek Anderson this Thursday. ¾ of the ¾ I wrote was instantly nullified. I spent several hours coming up with semi-clever quips and looking up stats for nothing - nothing, I say! Woe is me.
I don't know if I've ever been happier to completely re-write an article, because the original wasn't joyful, and it wasn't hopeful.
The only excerpt I will preserve is: For a variety of reasons, it's just simply not the Browns year. Watching a mediocre team play out the schedule with little direction and no evolution is not fodder for epic poems. Just another Lost Season. That story's been told before.
That is now as moot as Tito Jackson.
This Brady Quinn-to-start topic is going to be beaten to death long before you ever read this, so I'll make my thoughts short and pointless.
*My initial thought was that giving Quinn all of one practice to prepare to start is setting him up to fail. But then I remembered that if Derek Anderson had started and were to get hurt, I would expect Quinn to come in and perform. So the 2 or 3 day preparation is luxury.
*And that perception can be enhanced by the fact that Denver has probably the weakest Defense of all the teams left on the Browns' schedule.
*I do buy that Romeo Crennel was forced to make the move.
*I don't buy that it was due to fan pressure. I do buy that no one wanted the franchise embarrassed on National TV with the massive Booing and Brady chants, but that wasn't the main reason for the change. I think that powers higher up than Romeo, maybe all the way at the top, sat him down and strenuously suggested making the switch. I think the "suggestion" was issued due to that individual's belief that the move was long past due.
*I don't buy that the players are supposedly upset about the move. They want to win too. No matter how much other factors have contributed to Anderson's failures, it is undeniable that he, himself, has been mostly awful as well. The players know this.
*For the love of Buddha... Romeo/Chud, don't try to "protect" Quinn the way you "protected" DA, i.e. running Jamal into the line twice then trying to convert 3rd and 8.
*I think Quinn will struggle at first, but since Anderson was already struggling, it won't get any worse than it already is. Maybe - just maybe - it will improve.
*Crennel/Savage/Lerner should not be lauded for making the move, because the move should have been made weeks ago. Honestly, the move should've been made during the offseason.
*The thoughts of the national media on the QB change show the complete lack of knowledge that they have on the state of Cleveland Browns football this year (and the end of last).
*I am not happy that Brady Quinn is in. I don't even really like the guy. I'm just happy that Anderson ISN'T in. The Browns QB needs to be better than what Derek was providing.
*I feel that Quinn cannot help but be an improvement because even though he may lack DA's explosive potential, he'll be much more consistent. Consistency is vastly more important than a big arm. Ask Jamarcus Russell.
It's too late to save the season. It's over. But at least now this non-Playoff season has a point - building towards 2009. Anderson is done. We don't have 2 good QB's. Now we get to see if we even have one. 8 games should certainly give us a better idea about that.
Following the game, I took my fair daughters to Chuck E. Cheese (otherwise known as Hell) for my younger one's 6th Birthday. A few hours and some really awful pizza later, she complained of her stomach hurting as we drove home. Upon arrival at the homestead, I carried her inside, where she promptly projectile vomited all over my face, jacket, and Browns shirt. I quickly ran her to the bathroom and told her to throw up in the toilet, but the seat was down, and the second wave hit before it could be lifted. You'd be amazed how reddish-pink goo can just skip off a plastic toilet lid, causing an array on the wall that would make Jackson Pollack envious.
After she was finished, she turned and told me she was sorry she threw up all over my Browns shirt. "That's OK, honey," I replied. "I've wanted to do that all day."
3 and Out. Short Punt. Ravens drive 20 yards and get a Field Goal. Ravens 3, Browns 0.
Syndric Steptoe fumbles, Baltimore recovers. Brandon McDonald gets burnt on a long pass for a TD to Mark Clayton, his 1st TD ever. Ravens 10, Browns 0.
Josh Cribbs finally breaks a Kick return, getting the Browns back in the game. Ravens 10, Browns 7.
Baltimore drives 46 yards, but is forced to Punt.
End of 1st: Ravens 10, Browns 7.
Browns go 3 and Out again. Baltimore gets the ball at midfield, but D holds them to a Punt again. DA finally gets warm, drive the Browns down to the BAL 6, where they are held and forced to kick on 4th and 1. Browns 10, Ravens 10.
Cleveland can't stop the run again, and the Ravens drive right down the field, but Shaun Rogers sacks Joe Flacco on 3rd and Goal. Ravens 13, Browns 10.
With only 29 seconds left in the Half, DA completed 2 quick passes and Phil Dawson hit a masterful 54 yard FG that would've been good from Mars.
Halftime: Browns 13, Ravens 13.
The Browns held the Ravens to their first 3 and Out, then Cribbs returned the punt all the way to the BAL 28. Anderson threw a ball toward Braylon Edwards in the End Zone, but it wasn't a great throw and the coverage was tight, so it would've been picked had Braylon not managed to get simultaneous possession as they hit the ground. Great play for the TD. Browns 20, Ravens 13.
The D forced another 3 and Out, and DA was hot. The Browns drove right down the field, and Jason Wright took a swing pass 7 yards for a score (sort of). Browns 27, Ravens 13.
Up by 14, the crowd was excited and the Browns were feeling it. D'Qwell Jackson sacked Flaccid to bring up 3rd and 16 from the BAL 15. A stop meant 3 consecutive 3 and Outs and great Field Position for Cleveland. But they rushed only 3, got no pressure, and gave Flaccid plenty of time to hit Derek Mason for 20 (thanks, Terry Cousin). Ballgame.
After that, the Browns Defense completely forgot how to tackle or fill a gap, Ray Rice started his march to the Hall of Fame, and Sean Jones got plowed over by Le'Ron McClain for a TD. Browns 27, Ravens 20.
3 and Out Cleveland.
End of 3rd: Browns 27, Ravens 20.
Starting at the Browns 42, it took only 3 plays for the Ravens to tie the game. Eric Wright fell down on his coverage of Mason, enabling the purple Receiver to stroll into the End Zone. Browns 27, Ravens 27.
Cleveland ran Jamal Lewis twice, which is about as effective as throwing a frog at a flash flood. DA threw deep on 3rd Down, a perfectly thrown 50 yard pass right into the arms of a streaking Braylon. Sadly, Hands of Osmium botched it, and the crowd gave him a gentle remonstration.
The Browns D finally got it's dung together and held a 3 and Out. But the Browns O returned the favor. Then Ray Rice ran through a gargantuan hole, juking a couple Defenders into oblivion, and picked up 60 to the CLE 3. An admirable Goal Line stand kept the game interesting. Ravens 30, Browns 27.
4th Quarter. 5:36 left. Down by 3. Ball in your hands... it's stuff that QB's dream of as kids. DA responded by going 3 and Out. The D held Baltimore, and Time Outs were used.
Let's try this again: 4th Quarter. 3:25 left. Down by 3. Ball in your hands... sigh. DA, under pressure all day, tried to dump a screen to Wright as Ngata smooched his grill. But he had to rush it, and Wright wasn't ready. Or near the ball, for that matter. Terrell Suggs was, though, and he took the awful decision back for a Pick 6 to effectively end the game and Derek Anderson's career in Cleveland. That was the hippo that broke the camel's back.
Final: Ravens 37, Browns 27.
Offensive MVP: Everyone. The Offensive Line blocked well and opened up huge holes for Jamal Lewis, who ran without hesitation and picked up vast chunks of yardage. With the game tied at 27 in the 4th Quarter, Braylon's 50 yard catch over the middle on a bomb swung the momentum back in Cleveland's favor, and Derek Anderson finished it off with a classic game-winning drive at the end.
Defensive MVP: Sean Jones. His Goal Line stop on Le'Ron McClain and key tackle on Ray Rice in the open field helped keep the Browns in this game.
~~~This is very simple. The season is done. The Browns need to know what they have in Quinn.
If he plays well, then Derek Anderson's $5 million roster bonus will not be paid, and the Browns will shop him, maybe for a 5th Rounder or so. Maybe they are forced to outright release him.
If he struggles, then the Browns can pay DA's roster bonus, and they can go into the 2009 Training Camp with an open QB competition.
This is a move the Browns HAD to make in order to determine their future. That's what they're playing for now, after all.
~~~This whole mess would've been avoidable had Derek Anderson just gotten hurt like all the other QB's in the league. Then we could get to see what Quinn had without making a total commitment to him for the rest of the season if he played terribly.
But no, Huckle had to go and suck AND stay healthy, thus forcing this eventuality. Now he's a nigh worthless commodity, and Quinn has the pressure of Instant Savior on his shoulders.
~~~Lost in all the hubbub is the Joe Jurevicius press conference. From that, we gleaned that he's not going to be back this year due to multiple knee surgeries involving our friend Staph. Not a surprise. When he was wasting away in the hospital, Phil Savage didn't call him. Not a surprise. And he plans on coming back for another season in 2009. Somewhat of a surprise.
If the loss of Joey J is really creating as much havoc in the Browns' O as it seems, his return will be more welcome than a one night stand in Vegas.
~~~Time for my almost annual tradition of Adopt-A-Team. In years when the Browns are out of it by midseason (most years), I select one team from the NFC that has a fighting chance at the Playoffs so I can still have a rooting interest as the season gets late.
This year, my adopted team is the Arizona Cardinals. They've been down as long as our poor franchise - even longer - and Kurt Warner is my fantasy QB.
This is the year for the sun to finally shine on Phoenix. Metaphorically speaking, naturally.
~~~Far be it for me to defend Derek Anderson, because he has performed woefully for the greater part of the season. But I don't think he's the sole reason Cleveland lost this game. Not by a long shot. There was the Run D in general, Terry Cousin surrendering the 3rd and 16 when up by 14, and Hands of Osmium (or HOO, for short) dropping the long pass in the 4th.
All these things led to a situation where you were asking DA to lead a game winning drive, and that's something he's simply not capable of these days. Under those circumstances, he will lose far more often than he will win.
The mistakes made earlier led to a state of affairs where the threat of the run (such as it was) was gone and DA was under heavy pressure on a frequent basis and that is where he does the opposite of excel. The way the interception happened was a surprise, but the interception itself was not.
With 3 ½ minutes left, the ball at midfield, and only down 3, most teams would feel that they were in an advantageous position. Did you feel that way? I know I didn't. I knew I should feel that way, but I also knew Anderson had previously assumed Shape of Suck and there wasn't enough time left for him to shake it.
The game was already lost before the ill-advised dumpoff landed in Terrell Suggs' claws. That just made it worse.
If the D had stopped the Ravens on 3rd and 16 from the BAL 15 - with that momentum and the following field position, then the Browns win.
If HOO (rhymes with "Boo") catches the bomb and the Browns score to go back up by 7 in the 4th, then maybe the Browns win.
But, with 3 minutes left, INT or no INT, the Browns lose anyway.
~~~Suggestion to Chud: Now that Quinn, the far more mobile QB, is in, run a play where you suddenly split Brady out wide, bring in DA (or Cribbs) at the QB position, send Quinn and Edwards on deep routes, and then throw the ball over the middle for 20 to Winslow.
Everyone will think it will be one of those trick throws to the QB, such as the ones completed to Joe Flacco and Tyler Thigpen in recent weeks. And those that don't will think it's going to Braylon. Leaving the middle wide open for a nice gain.
Then you run the same play the following week, and you DO throw it deep.
~~~While we're making some changes, the time has come for Jamal Lewis to relinquish his stranglehold on the starting job.
I love the way Jamal runs. I love his leadership. I love his toughness. But he's lost a step. The hole is often closed by the time he hits it, and almost everything is between the tackles since he's not quite quick enough to get the corner any more.
He averaged 2.58 yards per carry against Baltimore. Fair enough. Baltimore has a tough Run D. But he has only averaged 3.6 per carry all season. A majority of his yards come at the end of the game - he HAS to be more effective earlier in the contest.
Jason Wright and especially Jerome Harrison both need to get more touches. Even a whole series here and there. The Running Game is predictable and ineffective at this point, and change has to come here too.
This probably also means the Browns will have a new starting RB next season. Likely, he is not currently on the team.
~~~And now for the winners of the Donte Stallworth contest. Some of the e-mails contained multiple submissions - I used a max of 3 per. Don't shoot the messenger.
Donte Stallworth is more fragile than...
A promise to call her in the morning.
Marv Albert's "Feminine Side."
Toilet paper made of daisies.
Sexual Boundaries between siblings in Western PA.
Bald Eagle eggs on DDT.
Phil Savage's inter-personal skills.
A glass flyswatter.
My pledge to give up drinking after Mardi Gras.
Testicles in a blender.
Doug Dieken's hair.
The "Greatness" of Art Modell's legacy.
Joe Paterno's bowels.
Thanks to all that participated. Now we just need Donte's e-mail address...
~~~What gives, Sean Jones? You looked thoroughly disinterested. Were you carrying the 1 whilst adding up your imaginary contract?
~~~Per the Plain Dealer: John Harbaugh, the Ravens rookie coach, announced the team was dedicating the game to former Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell.
"He deserves this more than anybody," Harbaugh said.
Excellent - now I have someone else to hate. My hatred is too large to be confined to just one area.
Harbaugh, you're in your first year with the purple ones. Modell hasn't been the owner there for several. He has almost nothing to do with your current team, so your dedicating the game to him is nothing but an intentional slap to Cleveland's face. Time for me to fill your condoms with Tobasco.
And, just so you know, the only thing Modell "deserves" is having his tomb turned into the world's largest urinal.
Yes, this means that the Ravens have now re-ascended to the top of my Shit List. I think I'll rent The Sum of All Fears again and chortle.
I don't want to use profanity, but I have it on good authority that John Harbaugh is something that rhymes with Clock-sucker.
~~~Let me tell you about another Clock-sucker. His name is Trent Dilfer.
"Public opinion has made this decision for the Browns," said Dilfer, who was Cleveland's starter in 2005 before he lost his job to Charlie Frye. "I have spoken to coaches who have said, 'This is not Derek Anderson's fault.' In fact, at times he's played better than his statistics have showed. This is a function of the defense not getting off the football field; Braylon Edwards, a superstar receiver who's supposed to make all the plays to make you better, having 14 drops at least. It's about their playmakers, Kellen Winslow, not being there, not being dependable. It's about people not being at their best and Derek Anderson burdening the responsibility for this.
"This is an organization that I played for for a year and I saw very closely that the organization itself is highly dysfunctional and cannot make decisions that are good for the long-term growth of the organization."
What a whiny little bitch.
No, Trent, common sense made this decision for the Browns.
Dilfer sort of "broke" this story, and with his inexplicable sensitivity, I have to wonder if his source wasn't a Cleveland QB with a strong arm and inconsistent ability. Trent can identify with that. He's a big fan of the crappy QB, since he spent the vast majority of his career being just that.
Most of this year, the Defense was fine with getting off the football field. Remember the 0-0 Halftime tie at Washington? Was that loss the Defense's fault? How about giving up 10 to Pittsburgh? Were those 2 picks in Baltimore perhaps responsible for some of the scoring there?
And Braylon's 14 drops in 8 games don't turn Tom Brady into Scott Mitchell.
Not to mention that DA's best two games came when Winslow was out.
Certainly, the whole team has not played like they should, but to say that Derek Anderson was "burdening" with that responsibility is pigshit. Just because others are to blame for the team's losses doesn't excuse DA for his part in the debacle.
Mr. Dilfer, you were mostly lame, and, with a losing team, the franchise had to see what they had in Rookie Charlie Frye. It happens all the time; bad veteran QB's get replaced by untested QB's because the team knows what it has in the limp vet, so maybe the new guy is an improvement. Maybe he's not. But staying the course with the Trent Dilfers of the world only leads you to Suck.
Sour grapes don't lend you credibility. I understand that you want to be "controversial" so you can keep your job at ESPN, but it would also help if what you said were intelligent.
Here's hoping you go the way of Trev Alberts.
~~~During the 1 pm games on Sunday, many bad teams rose up and threatened to shock the world with wins over good teams.
KC was up 21 over Tampa... and lost.
Detroit was up 10 at Half over Chicago... and lost.
The Browns were up 14 over Baltimore... and lost.
At least one of the bad teams built a big lead and pulled it out. Yep. The Bengals got up 21-3, and managed to hold on 21-19. Now the '76 Tampa Bay Buccaneers only need the Lions to win and they can twist the lid on their Mad Dog 20/20.
~~~I'm 36 today. 18 years from 18, which seemed like only 18 months ago.
Time flies when you're inebriated.
If I had chosen to become a professional football player, I'd probably be retired by now. Is it too late to go back and change my major?
~~~Despite the doom and gloom currently pervading the Browns outlook, I'm actually still buying into "Wait ‘Til Next Year!" Here are the changes that we are likely to see:
*Derek Anderson will likely be gone. I don't know what Quinn will bring, but DA has started 27 games now and I do know what he brings, and it's a simple equation of addition by subtraction.
*Romeo Crennel might be gone. Whoever replaces him will be a "new coach" (for the Browns, at least), and optimism will abound as the general public will put their faith that this guy finally will be The One.
*Phil Savage will address the weaknesses at the Linebacker position.
*Glass Flyswatter will be replaced.
*There will be a new 1st and 2nd Round picks for people to pin their hopes on (and buy jerseys for).
*There will be a new class of Free Agents.
*Returning will be Daven Holly, probably playing nickel, meaning no more Terry Cousin.
*Returning will be Ryan Tucker and Lenny Friedman to bolster the OL.
*Returning will be Antwan Peek to bolster the pass rush.
*Returning will be Joe Jurevicius to bolster the receiving corps.
*Returning will be Robaire Smith to bolster the D Line.
There are 7 teams with worse records than the Browns, and 4 are tied at 3-5, so if this draft position holds, Cleveland will be picking somewhere from #8 to #11 (yes, it's really THAT bad).
What kind of player could be had at that spot?
How about a Linebacker like Rey Maualuga - USC (my first choice) or James Laurinaitis - Ohio State (I personally feel he's too small for the 3-4)?
How about a Defensive End to rush the QB, like Michael Johnson - GA Tech or George Selvie - South FLA or Brian Orakpo - Texas (despite his recent injury)?
How about another Defensive Tackle to plug the middle since Phil wisely passed on Haloti Ngata for Kam Wimbley? Or a shut-down Corner to bolster the secondary? Maybe a stud Safety like Taylor Mays - USC so we don't have to overpay Sean Jones to stay? Another Offensive Lineman never hurts, and there're lots of good ones available at the top of the draft. Or maybe a dazzling skill player like WR Michael Crabtree - Texas Tech or RB Knowshon Moreno - Georgia?
And you sit there with stars in your eyes imagining the team with all these additions/changes... ah, it's sip of cool water whilst wandering in Nevada.
Yes, Cleveland Browns fans, no matter how bad today is...
WAIT ‘TIL NEXT YEAR!
Yeah baby! Woooo!
~~~The Denver Broncos.
Originally, this is what I wrote: Here is a guarantee, straight from me to you: If the Browns lose this game at home, it will be the last game that Derek Anderson starts at QB for Cleveland (barring injury).
We all know the season is done, but the Browns themselves won't give up so soon (nor should they). But another loss would drop them to 3-6, and that loss would be to a team that is playing awful football right now.
At that point, even the powers that be would have to admit that was the end of 2008. And, realizing that, the Brady Quinn Experiment would begin.
Now that the Experiment is under way, I have much less idea of what to expect.
The Broncos Defense is awful, Jay Cutler is struggling mightily, and Denver's Run Game has been poor. Against the Browns' Run D, however, that might change.
I think the team will be angry for this game. The D will play much better, having a chip the size of Delaware on their shoulder. HOO will somehow cure his dropsies. Quinn will be effective enough against a poor Denver pass rush. Jamal will average over 4 yards a carry.
Browns 24, Denver 13.