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Columbus Dispatch: Browns made right move, but far too late


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Wednesday, November 5, 2008 3:26 AM





When the Cleveland Browns announced they would start Brady Quinn at quarterback Thursday night against Denver, I thought of an e-mail I received from a relative the day after American International Group stock plunged and the company submitted to a government bailout.

"I just found out that (an elderly relative) has a lot of AIG stock," the e-mailer wrote. "Maybe we should try to help her sell it."


Nice sentiment. Smart move. Last week.


That pretty much describes the Browns quarterback situation. The coach, general manager or owner -- whoever the adventuresome swashbuckler is who finally decided to plunge ahead with Quinn against the Broncos -- hung onto that erratic, underperforming Derek Anderson stock too long. He hemmed and hawed and waited until the season was effectively over before finally selling, which is a pretty good indication why the franchise aimlessly drifts and descends like a sinking lifeboat on Lake Erie.


I've never been an advocate of quick change, but even I thought the Browns should have sat down Anderson and gone with Quinn after Game 4, an embarrassing debacle that Cleveland won 20-12 in Cincinnati. The Browns entered Paul Brown Stadium 0-3, and Anderson might have been generously described as unpredictable. He did little to distinguish himself in that game despite the victory over the winless Bengals.


But coach Romeo Crennel wouldn't hear of a quarterback change afterward, and he was at least temporarily vindicated when Anderson played well and the Browns beat the New York Giants in their next game.


This, of course, has been the Anderson con, and Crennel, if anyone, should have realized it. Every time Anderson seemed poised for a demotion, he turned in at least an adequate performance, which gave the coaching staff just enough reason to stick with him. It can now be said that they stuck with him right up to the moment that the Browns' playoff hopes were sufficiently doomed.


Whether this is solely Crennel's fault is hard to say. Whether Quinn will star or struggle the rest of the way is hard to predict. In two seasons, the former Notre Dame star has played exactly one series, another curious decision considering that Quinn is supposedly the team's quarterback of the future.


But we do know that Anderson isn't the answer, and the Browns should have known it before this. He had 23 games as the starter, plenty of time to judge whether he was truly up to the job. So why did it take so long for the Browns to see it?


In fairness, it must be said that the greatest Brown of all, team consultant Jim Brown, said weeks ago that some members of the team's front office wanted to see Quinn


get his chance. It must be assumed that group didn't include general manager Phil Savage -- or Savage didn't want to interfere with the coaches' decision-making process.


And the Browns' offensive failures aren't all Anderson's fault. Braylon Edwards has a league-high 13 drops, and the offensive line hasn't been a model of consistency. But the Browns' faith in Anderson stemmed almost completely from the 10-5 record the team had in his starts last season, when the schedule was loaded with softies.


This season, he has struggled with the two-minute offense. With the game on the line Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, the Browns had good field position on three late-game possessions and the end results were: a punt, an interception returned for a touchdown and a turnover on downs.


If Quinn had been in there, the game may or may not have turned out differently, but Anderson's play had already given the Browns reason to expect exactly what they got.


Start Quinn against Denver? Absolutely.


But the real blunders have already been made. The future the Browns might have had this season is already past.


Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.

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He's right...we waited too long.


After 6 years of Quarterback Musical Chairs, The FO was reluctant to yank yet another starter after DA finally showed some promise at that position. It makes sense, but they waited too long.


The Giants game not withstanding, he should have been pulled at the half of that abysmal performance against the Bungles. That was as bad a performance as any starting QB has ever given.


A change then certainly didn't guarantee us a playoff run, but no change then guaranteed there would not be a playoff run.



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