One of the popular themes going around as the year 2010 approaches is the creation of "all-decade lists." Rather than just creating a list myself, I'm going to allow the Dawgs By Nature community decide who should be on the Browns all-decade team. When all of the positions are voted for, I will post the compiled list along with my own comments of who I would've selected.
Today, we start with the quarterback position, which I've narrowed down to five candidates. For all positions, the candidates will be listed roughly in chronological order. Also, I've made it that in order to be considered, the player must have accrued at least 16 games (a full season's) worth of playing time. That's why someone like Brady Quinn is not on this list as a candidate, but if you are vehemently opposed to such a thing, explain why in the comments section.
1. TIM COUCH (2000-2004)
After being taken with the first pick of the 1999 draft, Couch was the Browns' starting quarterback for a good portion of the first half of the decade. Overall, he received more playing time than any other Browns quarterback of the decade. His statistics were average for a first-round pick -- he threw for 49 touchdowns and 54 interceptions.
The thing I loved about Couch was his ability to lead a comeback. Case in point -- during the Browns only playoff season since returning to the league, the team was down 17-14 to Jacksonville in Week 14 of the 2002 season. With only 1:25 left to play, Couch was intercepted and the Jaguars tacked on another field goal. Couch got a chance at a Hail Mary and delivered it to Quincy Morgan as time expired. Two games later, Couch, on the road against the Ravens, engineered a 92-yard drive and threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Mark Campbell with 29 seconds remaining. The Browns won 14-13. Earlier in that season, Couch had tremendous comebacks against the Titans and the Jets as well.
Couch accomplished what he did with a decent ensemble cast, but no real stars or an offensive line surrounding him. The negative moment in his career came when fans were getting more excited to see Kelly Holcomb at quarterback instead. After getting injured against the Ravens on October 6, 2002, it appeared as though some fans were cheering that he was injured. After the game, Couch was emotionally upset and lashed out at the reaction of the fans.
2. KELLY HOLCOMB (2001-2004)
Here's the man who inadvertently led to (partially) the downfall of Couch's reign in Cleveland. Holcomb was known for his ability to step into a situation and light it up. When I say "light it up," I really mean it -- he didn't just put up ordinary numbers. Take a look at two of his most memorable games.
First, during the 2002 campaign, he started the opener against the Chiefs (the Dwayne Rudd game). In that game, Holcomb threw for 326 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 40-39 loss. He fought hard in the playoff game against the Steelers too, another spot start, when he threw for 429 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception.
When given the opportunity to start over Couch the following season though, Holcomb fell flat. He had zero spark in his first two games, and suffered an injury after the third game (a contest in which he came from behind to win). Besides one blowout game against the Arizona Cardinals, Holcomb never really proved he was anything more than a veteran backup quarterback.
Holcomb did have one more "spot start" type of success -- the 58-48 shootout loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in 2004, a game in which he threw for 413 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions.
3. CHARLIE FRYE (2005-2007)
Expectations were probably set a little too high for the third-round quarterback, and it showed on the field with Frye's poor touchdown (14) to interception (23) ratio. The thing that separates Frye from the other quarterbacks we've had was his mobility. In 21 games, Frye rushed for 276 yards and four touchdowns. Those aren't Michael Vick numbers, but they were certainly Frye's best asset.
Frye should've used that asset more often to assist him in the passing game. I still have to believe the coaching staff instructed Frye to be a pocket passer, because as effective as Frye was when rolling out, he hardly did it towards the end of his career with the Browns. Maybe the coaches just didn't want him to roll out to the sideline and then throw the ball back toward the middle of the field idiotically.
For those who aren't aware, Frye will be starting for the Oakland Raiders this week.
4. DEREK ANDERSON (2006-2009)
That's right -- we're already at our final quarterback, Derek Anderson. There clearly aren't any Peyton Manning's to choose from on this list.
It's really kind of tough to decide how Anderson should be ranked in terms of making the all-decade team. One one hand, he by far had the best single season of any Browns quarterback in the decade back in 2007, when he threw for 3,787 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions en route to a Pro Bowl.
Even during that good season though, the bad decisions were still always evident. His completion percentage is below 60 percent, and he doesn't have any touch on his throws. When expectations were high in 2008, Anderson laid an egg besides the memorable Monday Nighter against the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. This season, it's unfathomable to believe Anderson was ever given the distinguished notation of a Pro Bowler, since his completion percentage in 6 games is a mere 42.9% to go along with 2 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
Was Anderson's one "wowing" season good enough to overcome the other ones?
*Includes playoff game against the Steelers.
These quarterbacks played for the Browns during the decade but are not up for consideration in the poll due to their lack of tenure with the team. If you'd still like to comment on them, or if you believe one of them should be the all-decade quarterback instead, sound off in the comments section. (Note: I am not listing quarterbacks with less than three games played).
- Doug Pederson (2000, 11 games)
- Luke McCown (2004, 5 games)
- Jeff Garcia (2004, 11 games)
- Trent Dilfer (2005, 11 games)
- Ken Dorsey (2006-2008, 5 games)
- Brady Quinn (2007-2009, 13 games)
Now it's time to cast your vote in the poll below, and then go ahead and explain your choice in the comments section. The next position we'll do is running back, but save the discussion on that position for a later date.
Please be aware that the considerations do not include the 1999 comeback season.