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A Meaningless Question
What else can be said about Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn that hasn't already been screamed by angry Browns fans? At this point, it's becoming obvious that neither quarterback is the answer for 2009, or likely beyond. So, instead of projecting more volume regarding the qualities of these two soon to be-ex Browns quarterbacks, let's bring in Dave Kolonich to do what all real Browns do when the current season fails to live up to their expectations. Let's play remember when.
Since most of Browns Nation is blindly ignoring the obvious fact that our beloved franchise is undergoing the kind of vast reconstruction only seen in decentralized, oil-rich areas of the world and are instead focusing on the almost trivial idea that somehow one of our two incredibly average quarterbacks is going to rescue the team, I offer the following.
Call it Jumping on the Bandwagon, but if the Quarterback Question is still all the rage in Cleveland, far be it from me to offer a more logical approach regarding our team's current problems. However, before I address the QB situation - again - at least let me throw out a little sidebar that explains what I feel are the real problems plaguing this team.
1. Before stating any specific area that needs addressed on this team, let me first acknowledge that our franchise's owner merely inherited this team, does nothing proactive to ensure any real success and doesn't need to - considering that no matter how the Browns play, he will continue to reap profits.
Plus, he's not a football guy. Dude owns a soccer team.
2. The franchise reboots approximately every 3-4 years with new management, coaches and continuous personnel turnover, yet ignores the root of its problems (see #1), which includes weak ownership, undefined management roles and an utter lack of organizational and team identity.
3. Speaking of which, no less than three different coaches/GM's have tried to shape the Browns in their own vision, but failed. Coincidentally, inept drafting was both the symptom and the cause of the team's continual slide into irrelevance.
4. As for the players, despite the inaccuracy of the quarterbacks so far this season, at least acknowledge the fact that in 2009, the Browns are featuring two rookie wide receivers, a tight end with a broken finger and a right side of an offensive line that is more porous than an United States border fence.
5. Currently, the Browns feature absolutely no one on defense - no one - who could be considered an exceptional athlete at their position. You could perhaps make a slight exception for Shaun Rogers, but the problem here is that the Browns defensive scheme doesn't fit his unique skills. Everyone else currently playing defense for the Browns is a role player, at best.
6. The team's best players currently reside on special teams - and one of them is a punter.
But you're right - quarterback is the biggest issue on this team. I don't what I was talking about earlier.
So it is - but then again, what else can be said about Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn that hasn't already been screamed by angry Browns fans? At this point, it's becoming obvious that neither quarterback is the answer for 2009, or likely beyond.
Sounds like something
I've said before
So, instead of projecting more volume regarding the qualities of these two soon to be-ex Browns quarterbacks, let's do what all real Browns do when the current season fails to live up to their expectations.
Let's play remember when.
Perhaps after reading this, you'll realize that things could be much worse - or - the same as ever. And then as a fanbase, we can move beyond this trivial debate and focus our attentions on the bigger issues that this franchise is facing.
As for how all this came about, besides reading emails and message boards until my eyes clouded up - my partner in prognosticating,
, offered the following in his Mt. Rainer all-time Seahawk quarterbacks:
1a. Matt Hasselbeck
1b. Dave Krieg
2/3. Jim Zorn
4. Warren Moon
And before you scoff at DKSB's seemingly contemporary rankings, at least acknowledge that the Seahawks have only been in existence since 1976. And since I am the sort that when faced with a decision of whether to be happy or right, I had to acknowledge DKSB's request for my opinion on who was the greatest Browns QB.
Which I now realize has only led to more pain.
But before I responded, I figured that the only fair way to approach the question was to use the same criteria that DKSB used - that is start in 1976 - which roughly covers the past 30 years or so of Browns history. And in using this approach, I can also eliminate throwing out the names of players who I've only seen on NFL Films. So - sorry - no Otto Graham on this list.
And without further pause, let's bring on the sadness.
1. Bernie Kosar
Obviously, in my lifetime - which runs almost parallel to the 1976 cutoff, Kosar is far and away the greatest Browns quarterback. In terms of desire, brains, precision and toughness, the franchise has struggled to replace him since his departure midway through the Bill Belichick era. In fact, considering the terms of his removal from Cleveland, you could even go as far as suggesting the unceremonious way in which Kosar was disposed of has caused a plague on Browns quarterbacks ever since.
2. Brian Sipe
The inclusion of Sipe is probably colored more through the fact that the Post-Kardiac Kids era teams formed some of my earliest memories of the Browns. I grew up watching old NFL Films footage of the 1980 season and had my first real exposure of the team during the 1983 campaign.
Obviously, these two seasons didn't exactly match up in terms of success, yet that eternal possibility of hope that Sipe could provide basically forged my Browns identity.
After Sipe and Kosar, where do you go next? Think about it - there's not a lot to choose from.
Or, just take a look at the list.
Paul McDonald - 1982, 1984
Gary Danielson - 1985, 1987, 1988
Jeff Christensen - 1987
Mike Pagel - 1988, 1990
Don Strock - 1988
Mike Tomczak - 1992, 1993
Todd Philcox - 1993
Mark Rypien - 1994
Eric Zeier - 1995
Ty Detmer - 1999
Doug Pederson - 2000
Spergon Wynn - 2000
Kelly Holcomb - 2002, 2003, 2004
Jeff Garcia - 2004
Luke McCown - 2004
Trent Dilfer - 2005
Charlie Frye - 2005, 2006, 2007
Ken Dorsey - 2008
Bruce Gradkowski - 2008
Brady Quinn - 2008, 2009
3. Vinnie Testaverde
For every Browns fan who had their heart ripped out by Bill Belichick midway through the 1993 season, the inclusion of Testaverde as an "All-Time" Browns QB is nothing short of sacrilegious. And on a more logical note, it's also hard to add the ex-Hurricane simply because of his short tenure in Cleveland.
However, if you flash back to the 1994 season, which is largely overlooked when people read from the early chapters of the Book of Belichick, you'll see that not only did Testaverde lead a ball control team to success, he actually won a playoff game.
Name a Browns quarterback who has done that since.
4. Tim Couch/Derek Anderson
I can only imagine all the "Quinnbots" out there now, balling up their fists in tiny rage. And before you question DA's legitimacy as an "All-Time" great, consider that in many ways, he rescued the Browns 2007 season and got the team within a game of the playoffs. Obviously, DA's epic meltdown against the Bengals in December cost the team a playoff spot, but still - he led a Browns offense in 2007 that was among the league's best.
As for Couch, his career was a mixed bag at best and an utter failure if viewed from another perspective. However, much like the overall QB argument of today, Couch's ultimate fate was sealed by a lack of talent around him, and by an inept team of management. However, if you consider that Couch led the 2003 Browns to the doorstep of the playoffs before getting injured, his career begins to parallel the successes of DA.
Finally, before you begin bashing Couch and his bum shoulder all over again, at least remember that he is list-worthy simply because he was the last Browns quarterback to beat the Steelers.
So do I need to continue to a #5? Or, is there even a worthy candidate? More importantly, what have we learned from all this?
How about this for a lesson: Currently, the Browns feature the 4th best quarterback of the "contemporary era." Granted, DA is among the worst starting quarterbacks in the league at the moment - but still, since we're a breed that feels a need to point to our history in order to justify our present, let's at least take comfort in knowing that things could be worse.
And on a final note - until this team adds some quality talent and gains some measure of an identity moving forward, the quarterback issue is perhaps the most irrelevant debate a logical-thinking Browns fan can possibly involve themselves in.
Oh wait, I forgot about Brett Ratliff. Nevermind.
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