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Terry Pluto: Talking to myself about Brady Quinn


Question: So what is the real reason the Browns benched Derek Anderson for Brady Quinn?


A: Not sure, but I know why it makes sense.


Q: I'll bite ... why?


A: Because they have to pick a quarterback for next year. They have to know who is better long term -- Anderson or Quinn. They can't do it with just a few starts. Now that they have turned to Quinn, they need to turn the team over to him for the last eight games.


Q: Isn't money the only reason Anderson has been starting?


A: Here are the numbers: After signing his extension, Anderson has been paid $8 million this season between his signing bonus and salary. His next big boost is March of 2009, when he has a $5 million bonus if still on the roster.


Q: What about Quinn?


A: He was paid $1.1 million for 2007. In March of 2008, he received a $4.2 million bonus, and his salary is another $395,000 for this year. Since 2007, the Browns have about $8.5 million so far tied up in Anderson, and $6.6 million in Quinn. Money is not the real issue.


Q: So why didn't Quinn play earlier?


A: Romeo Crennel is very loyal to Anderson, who came out of nowhere to save the team last season. The coach does not like to make a lot of changes, and he tends to favor veterans.


Q: Was he for the switch?


A: He had to approve it, but it sure doesn't sound like it was his idea. I'm guessing -- yes, guessing -- that the Browns are 3-5, and a dreadful 1-3 at home. The fans are booing, and calling for Brady. The 37-27 loss to Baltimore was one of the most negative experiences since the Browns returned in 1999. Internally, there is a feeling that Anderson has lost the fans, and the customers won't be happy until they see Quinn play. It's not the only reason for the decision, but it's a factor.


Q: Are you blaming the 3-5 start on Anderson?


A: Obviously, not all of it. I am more concerned with evaluating the quarterbacks, finding the best one. In the last two years, Anderson has started 23 games. The Browns are 13-10. In those games, he's completed 55 percent of his passes, good for 37 TDs and 23 interceptions.


Q: What's wrong with that?


A: Let's look at his last 16 games -- a full NFL season. That's eight from the end of last year, the first eight from this season. Suddenly, Anderson is down to 52 percent, 21 TDs compared to 17 interceptions. His quarterback rating is 71.4 percent.


Q: What does that mean?


A: He has been so-so in the last 16 games (8-8 record). The average NFL quarterback completes 62 percent, Anderson is at 52 percent in the last 16 games. The average QB has a rating of about 85 percent, he is at 71.4.


Q: Doesn't he make big plays?


A: In 2007, he ranked third in completions good for at least 20 yards. This season, he is 23rd. Yes, some of this is Braylon Edwards leading the NFL with 13 drops -- he had 12 all last season. And no viable second receiver in Joe Jurevicius or Donte Stallworth, both injured. By the way, Edwards did drop a TD pass Sunday, but he also saved an interception and turned it into a TD pass with a super play in the end zone. Just mentioning that to be fair to Edwards, whom I have continually criticized this season.


Q: Is there one part of Anderson's game that worries you the most?


A: Completing only 49.8 of his passes. That ranks 33rd in the NFL. His touch, especially on short throws, has been poor. Here is a disturbing downward trend, a month-by-month look going back to October 2007: 62.4; 59.6; 53.1; 49.6; 49.5 and finally he was 17-of-33 (51.4) in the Baltimore game.


Q: Will Quinn be any better?


A: He has thrown eight passes in the regular season. There is a body of research that shows if a quarterback starts at least 35 games at a BCS school, and completes at least 57 percent of his passes, he tends to have a successful pro career. Quinn had 46 starts at Notre Dame, completing 59.9 percent. For what it's worth, Anderson had 38 starts at Oregon State, completing 50.7 percent.


Q: Didn't Quinn struggle in bowl games?


A: In two starts against Ohio State and LSU, he had long days. It was 29-of-45 with five sacks and no TDs in a 34-20 loss to the Buckeyes. It was 15-of-35 with two TDs and two interceptions in a 41-14 loss to LSU. To be fair to Quinn, Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune wrote that in nine games during Quinn's last two seasons, he faced defenses ranked in the top 35. The results: 58 percent completions, 18 TDs to 6 interceptions.


Q: What kind of quarterback will he be?


A: He won't throw as many long passes as Anderson at his best. He also will be sacked more, but throw fewer interceptions -- and may be more effective as a runner than Anderson. In his last two years at Notre Dame, Quinn had 69 TD passes, 14 interceptions, completing 62 percent of his passes and was sacked 51 times. But the only way to find how that translates to the NFL is to play him, and play him in the last eight games.

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