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Quintessential patience


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Quintessential patience


Browns’ promising QB finally getting chance


By Allen Wilson




In this age of instant gratification, Brady Quinn has learned the virtues of patience.


He was supposed to be an early selection in the 2007 draft, but had to sit and watch 21 players go ahead of him before the Cleveland Browns swung a trade with the Dallas Cowboys to get him.


When Quinn arrived in Cleveland, he had to wait 24 games before getting his first NFL start.


“Looking back on my whole experience in the NFL thus far, I really felt like God was kind of testing my patience,” Quinn said this week during a conference call with the Buffalo media. “And looking back on the draft, I was thinking, ‘Wow, what other things could I be doing now, like maybe playing 18 holes of golf?’ I probably would’ve been done with the 18 before I got picked.


“But looking back and I think more than anything else, it was a test of patience and showing me that, ‘Hey, there’s other ways to learn this game,’ instead of just getting thrown into the fire, which was more or less my experience up to this point.”


Well, the heat is on Quinn now. With their season teetering on the brink of total disaster, the Browns benched Derek Anderson and handed the job of Quinn, who is being asked to rescue a 3-6 Browns team that has fallen well short of expectations.

Quinn may not be enough to solve the Browns’ present troubles, but he gave a glimpse of what could be a promising future in his first NFL start last week.


With only two days of preparation prior to a Thursday game, Quinn completed 23 of 35 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions against Denver. But instead of being the first Browns quarterback to win his starting debut since Bernie Kosar in 1985, Quinn saw his teammates go through a fourth-quarter meltdown in a 34-30 loss to the Broncos.


While Quinn operated a pared down game plan with plenty of short passes, his performance was impressive nonetheless.


“I thought Brady did a very nice job in that first game,” head coach Romeo Crennel said on a conference call this week. “He was able to manage the offense, he showed poise and composure, didn’t get rattled in situations, he used his feet to get out of trouble. So I thought he handled himself very well considering it was a short week and didn’t have as many practice reps in preparation for the game.”


Prime time beckons


Quinn figures to have a much tougher test when the Browns come to Ralph Wilson Stadium to meet the Buffalo Bills on Monday night.


The Bills don’t have a lot of film of Quinn, but they’ve seen enough to know he has the arm to make all the throws and the mobility to keep plays alive or gain yards on his own.


“You just analyze the game he did play and make sure we’re prepared for the type of athlete that he is,” said Bills cornerback Jabari Greer. “He brings a different dynamic to the offense. He’s more athletic with his legs and he can make things happen such as the quarterback we faced last week.”


Unlike New England’s Matt Cassel, NFL stardom was expected of Quinn after a record-setting career at Notre Dame. He blossomed when Charlie Weis left the Patriots to become coach of the Fighting Irish before Quinn’s junior year in 2005.


Weis, who is credited with molding Tom Brady into a Hall of Fame quarterback, worked similar magic with Quinn. In four seasons as a starter, he set 36 school records, including most completions (929), attempts (1,602), passing yards (11,742), touchdown passes (95) and total offense (11,944 yards).


Weis proclaimed Quinn was the most NFL-ready quarterback in the 2007 NFL draft. That opinion apparently wasn’t shared by at least 21 teams.


The waiting game


The Browns, who had the third overall selection, took Wisconsin left tackle Joe Thomas even though quarterback was a need and the fans favored Quinn given his local ties (he was born in Columbus and raised in nearby Dublin).


It’s not known if memories of former first-round bust Tim Couch affected the Browns’ decision, but they concluded that Thomas was the better — or safer — choice.


But as Quinn unexpectedly plummeted on the draft board, the Browns considered the possibility of trading back into the first round to get him. They found a willing partner in the Cowboys, who dealt the 22nd pick in exchange for the Browns’ 2007 second-round pick and their first-round selection in 2008.


“Once he started to slide we felt like he was a good talent and we felt like we needed to do something to get him in,” Crennel said. “Fortunately we were able to make the move and we got him. If he continues the way he started last week I think we’ll have a pretty good guy.”


Quinn was expected to compete for the starting job as a rookie, but a long contract holdout ended the possibility. That opened the door for Anderson to have a career year, earning a Pro Bowl spot and leading the Browns to a surprising 10-6 record. After the season, the team rewarded Anderson with a new three-year, $24 million contract.


It was enough to make Quinn wonder if he would ever get his shot in Cleveland.


“I’d be lying if I told you that thought didn’t cross my mind,” said Quinn, who made one brief appearance in the season finale against San Francisco. “I know I wasn’t able to necessarily be out there on the field, and I wasn’t sure what our organization was going to do at that point in time with Derek’s contract, etcetera. So I just wanted to make sure I was getting better, whether it was for Cleveland or another team because there was somewhat of an unknown at that point in time.”


Quinn leaned on his closest confidants like Weis, who provided encouragement and assured Quinn his time would come. For that to happen Anderson had to fail. When Anderson got off to a poor start, calls for Quinn got louder with each Browns loss.


Crennel insists benching Anderson was his decision. Not everyone is convinced. Trent Dilfer, a former Browns quarterback and current NFL analyst on ESPN, believes Crennel was swayed by public opinion. Dilfer also lost his job in Cleveland. He and Anderson also share the same agent.


“The organization is highly dysfunctional and cannot make decisions that are good for the long-term growth,” Dilfer said on the network. “Cleveland fans are frustrated. They want a consistent winner. Well, these types of decisions are exactly why they’re not a winner now and they won’t be a winner in the future.”


Support network


Outside opinion doesn’t matter to Quinn, who said he has the support of the people who matter the most — his teammates. That includes Anderson, who said he plans to help Quinn any way he can.


“That was the biggest thing. It didn’t make the situation as awkward as it could have been,” Quinn said of Anderson’s backing.


Now that Quinn is the Browns’ starting quarterback, he has to prove he’s worthy of keeping the job. Will he keep his cool in a hostile environment like he did in the friendly confines of Browns Stadium? Will he handle the pressure of being the face of his hometown franchise like Kosar did?


We’ll see if Quinn answers those questions in the affirmative, but he has no doubt that he’s ready for the challenge.


“I’m one to be a man who’s strong in his faith,” he said. “I believe I’m here for a reason. Now granted, I have no idea what that’s for, whether it’s going to be for a long, long successful career or for a short amount of time. Who knows? All I can do is hope and think in an optimistic manner that I am going to be the guy, that I’m going to be here.”



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