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Tuesday Round-Up: Back To Basics Edition
As many of the local Cleveland media are quickly figuring out, the manner in which Eric Mangini runs Browns camp is a severe departure from the holiday version installed by coaches past. An able bodied, yet famously outspoken defensive lineman now sleeps with the fishes. And Syndric Steptoe's agent has blamed Mangini for his client's injury. And we're just a week in. In Dave's latest, he updates us on the latest with the Browns, and talks about the media's love affair with Brady Quinn.
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past...
so says the author of the famously hyped first modernist novel, soon to be a major
motion picture release
. As many of the local Cleveland media are quickly figuring out, the manner in which Eric Mangini runs Browns camp is a severe departure from the holiday version installed by coaches past.
The weekend release of Shaun Smith, an able bodied, yet famously outspoken reserve lineman affirmed Mangini's rule and has to serve as the closest Browns analogy to a Fitzgerald "holocaust". While the current Browns players seem to be on board with Mangini's program, and local beat writers are slowly beginning to holster their personal agendas towards the new Boss of Berea; some national media types arrived over the weekend armed with some very familiar ammunition.
And so after a very brief respite from quarterback drama and Mangini bashing, we return to where we started.
And since the national media types know nothing other than this incredibly played story, let's examine yet another take on the drama that is allegedly burning up Berea...
Browns' Quinn Shows Poise and Maturity
The competition between Quinn and Anderson still seems neck-and-neck after a Sunday intrasquad scrimmage at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Quinn opened with a 51-yard touchdown pass and completed 11 of 19 throws for 121 yards with an interception. Anderson's numbers weren't as impressive (12-of-21 for 107 yards with an interception) but he did run for a score.
The scrimmage was just one factor Mangini will weigh before naming a permanent starter. Mangini wants someone who commands the huddle, recognizes incoming blitzes and has the savvy to audible if needed after reading the defense.
Through two weeks of camp, Mangini said the Quinn/Anderson competition was so close that frontrunner status will sometimes "fluctuate from period to period as to who's having the better day." Mangini said he's in no hurry to name a starter, but plans to stick with that quarterback indefinitely once the decision is made.
I wonder why the competition is being characterized as "neck and neck?" Oh, that's right - because it's only training camp...and national media types know nothing else about this team.
What could any coach, lesser or greater than Mangini, possibly surmise from barely a week of camp? It's not like either Quinn or Anderson have consistently led the team through a long road trip, or faced a defense the caliber of Pittsburgh or Baltimore. With the exception of some limited seven on seven and full lineup practices, the majority of the time the quarterbacks have been protected by trashcans disguised as offensive lineman.
In Kevin Shaffer's case, it's like he never left.
As for making a case for Quinn, it seems like it is in the best interests of those who prefer narratives if the Browns install the Golden Domer as the starting QB. As
Alex Marvez claims, Brady Quinn possesses every intangible required for quarterback greatness. Plus, he's Brady Quinn.
But Quinn should benefit from playing in a Charlie Weis-flavored offense with similarities to the one that helped him set 36 school records at Notre Dame. Quinn said he has become a more patient passer, allowing plays to develop rather than trying to force throws.
And who exactly "flavored" Charlie Weis' offense? Or, was Weis such an offensive genius that he singlehandledly created his own successful passing attack? Considering the average NFL playbook not held by Ben Roethlisberger contains some 500-1000 plays, wouldn't every quarterback in the league have some experience in Weis' offense, not to mention more traditional attacks such as Bill Walsh's and even more unconventional ones dreamed up by Don Coryell? Is the NFL no longer known as a "copycat" league?
The point is that after attending camp and getting a slight feel for what the Browns offense might look like in 2009, it has become apparent that the media hype distinguishing Quinn from DA is largely exaggerated. Certainly, Anderson has a strong arm, but Quinn is also not exactly Ken Dorsey. In terms of the initial offensive philosophy seen so far in camp, Quinn has taken just as many shots downfield as Anderson.
But there must be something else that makes Quinn such a dreamboat choice for QB, right? The Northeast Ohio Homer card is always the last to be played.
"He's grown a whole lot from when he first got here," Browns running back Jamal Lewis said. "He's motivated. He's from Ohio. He wanted to play here. You just hope the best for him and that he can accomplish all he wants out of his career."
Quinn is driven by the fact he's regarded as something of a hometown hero, having played high school football in the Columbus suburb of Dublin roughly two hours away. Quinn takes his community standing so seriously that he inks autographs for dozens of children every day after training camp practice even when he's not scheduled by team officials to sign.
I knew there was something about Quinn. Naturally, his hometown ties will push him over the top. Regardless of his sometimes rigid delivery or bouts of inaccuracy, the fact that he's a local boy will certainly deliver him greatness. After all, it worked for Charlie Frye...why not Quinn?
And now the sugary sickness sets in....
Watching him mingle with kids, it's hard to choose who gets more out of such sessions. The 24-year-old Quinn couldn't stop chuckling when leaving the field recently after one overly-excited youngster blurted, "I'm your favorite player!" rather than the other way around.
"It's been tough not playing but it's been a blessing being here because there's so much support," Quinn said. "We've got the greatest fans and being able to have your family come up and see you every week is awesome."
Quinn's approach toward football and life also gives "glory days" an entirely different meaning than Springsteen did.
"I fall back on my faith at all times," said Quinn, a devout Catholic. "Through the adversity and ups and downs, I thank God for the position I'm in. I'm blessed to be here on this team."
Kids, chuckling and God - what could be more American? After reading this testimonial I am now convinced of two things:
First, Derek Anderson is an atheist, a child abuser and he hates America. He's probably a Communist, too - at least in the old McCarthy era mold...and not in the trendy Obama manner. Second, if Alex Marvez actually attended camp, he didn't bother to watch any of the practices.
For a team that is undergoing one of the biggest transitions in its history, and probably the grandest currently in the league, to solely focus on an overhyped and in some ways,
largely unimportant QB derby
is a colossal waste of time. Readers of
who are not Browns followers will remain uninformed after reading Marvez's drool piece about Quinn.
After all, there are much more important things occuring in Berea...
And this story, while neatly fitting into the recurring "Eric Mangini is Evil" theme, is not one of them....
Mangini: Rain Didn't Cause Steptoe's Injury
Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini has disputed an agent's claim that reserve receiver Syndric Steptoe suffered a season-ending injury because of a bad practice decision.
Mangini, who reportedly cut short a Saturday practice because of inclement weather, said the injury Steptoe sustained wasn't a result of field conditions or the nature of the drills.
''Seventy-nine other guys were able to practice effectively," Mangini said Sunday. "And really the play that he was injured on didn't have anything to do with the elements."
While it's understandable that Steptoe and/or his agent are frustrated with losing a season to injury, it is very likely that the young NFL (in which the "L" could easily stand for "litigation") wideout is trying to cash in by putting the blame on Mangini. While Steptoe's agent's claim may contain a shred of credibility, a comparable scenario could see a truck driver suing the state for a crash caused by a wet roadway. Is there really any blame here?
Or, in other words...deal with it.
Steptoe's season was ended when he suffered a torn labrum, his agent, Jerome Stanley, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
"The coaches should more carefully weigh the risk of injury in practice decisions,'' Stanley said.
Stanley blamed the injury on a change of plans from walk-through drills, which he said the players had expected, to a full-speed practice in heavy rain.
''I haven't talked to Syndric Steptoe's agent. I don't know what he said,'' Mangini said. ''The practice we had planned is the practice that we executed Saturday.''
Basically, according to Steptoe's agent, his client presumably is autistic. Such changes in practice routine must be devastating for a professional to endure. I guess it's a good thing that Mangini didn't ask Steptoe to field a punt or run an extra lap. In addition to the labrum injury, Steptoe could have easily pulled a groin, sprained both ankles and stubbed his pinky finger.
But then again, wait just a minute...
Mangini said Steptoe was diving for a pass when he was hurt. It was a move Steptoe commonly attempts in drills, according to the coach.
''He really laid out for the ball," Mangini said. "It was a great effort play; he just couldn't bring it in.''
The diving in question could be the smoking gun. I take it all back. Mangini is an evil, ruthless dictator. But then again, Steptoe is at best a camp body in a future Phil Savage regime. Until that day arrives, let's hope Steptoe gets his story straight. If he needs someone to vouch for the tyrannical rule of Mangini, perhaps Steptoe's agent should contact Mike Florio.
And finally, from the "Of Course, It Makes Perfect Sense" files, comes this little blurb about our own wayward son.
Smith Visits Lions Camp
Defensive lineman Shaun Smith visited Lions headquarters today after being waived by the Browns.
"He's in getting a physical," Schwartz said. "We're going to do our due diligence on just about everybody that comes available."
Smith is a five-year NFL veteran, listed at 6-foot-2, 325 pounds, who can play end and tackle. He had 48 tackles, two quarterback pressures and a fumble recovery for the Browns last year.
You've been officially warned, Matthew Stafford...or, as you will now hereby be known - "white meat."
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