In part 1 of this series, I looked at the strength of the team: the offensive line. Now I will turn to one of the worst parts of the 2009 team: the quarterbacks.
That's not to say I think QB is the biggest need going forward. Or that there is no potential for these QBs to get better. Just that for the 2009 season they were awful.
I considered making this a one word article: (can you guess it?)
So how bad were they? Really, really freaking bad.
What? You want more? Fine, I'll roll up my sleeves, try to keep my eyes open, and do some dirty work.
Brady Quinn (10 games, 9 starts)
Derek Anderson (8 games, 7 starts)
Brett Ratliff (0 games in real life, 19 starts, including the Super Bowl in mooncamping's head).
The "peaks" and valleys... and the canyons
Here is a quick review of what happened this year at the quarterback position this year for the Browns:
Week 1 through Halftime of Week 3: In those first 10 quarters Brady Quinn was accurate (60.8 Completion %), but wasn't throwing the ball down field (under 5.5 YPA), didn't trust his protection (took 10 sacks), and turned the ball way too much (3 INTs and 2 lost fumbles). The offense was stagnant and it didn't show any signs of improvement. Mangini made the move to DA at halftime of week 3.
Halftime of Week 3 through Week 8: DA's turn. Besides a halfway decent game against the Bengals (a QB rating in the 60's!!), DA was historically bad in those 5.5 games. During these 5.5 games: 42.8 Completion %, 2 TDs, 9 INTs, and only 4.4 YPA. That is amazingly bad. He was 2-17 for 23 yards and an INT one game, and it wasn't his lowest QB rating (15.1) in this stretch! (He had a 10.5 in the Bears game). He was benched after the bye-week.
Week 10 through Week 15: Quinn's reprieve. This was the best stretch for a Browns QB in 2009. After a rough game against the Ravens (13-31, 99 yards, 2 INTs, 4 sacks), Quinn was something that resembled a good NFL QB for almost a month. Over the next 4 games Quinn had 7 TDs and 0 INTs. He was sacked just 5 times and only fumbled once. He lead the Browns to two of their most impressive offensive performances: @ Detroit and vs. San Diego. He was downright prolific in those two games. He managed the game decently against the Chiefs, allowing Harrison and Cribbs to shine (0 sacks,
0 turnovers, 40 yards rushing) Edit- he did have 2 INT's that game. Then he hurt his foot and was put on IR
Week 16 through 17: Derek Anderson's last starts for the Browns? (I can dream, right?). DA was alright at 15 for 28 and 207 yards. 1 TD, 1 INT. The Browns won each of these games, but mainly because of defense, rushing, and special teams.
The overall picture
While it can be useful to go back and see the progression of QB play, we should also zoom out and evaluate their play from a wider shot. The numbers tell most of the story-
Quinn:136/256 (53.1%), 9 TDs, 8 INTs, 1339 (6.0 YPA), 67.2 QB Rating, 19 sacks, -148 DYAR (31st of NFL QBs 46), -19.2% DVOA (32nd)
Anderson: 81/182 (44.5%), 3 TDs, 10 INTs, 888 Yards (4.9 YPA), 42.1 QB Rating, 11 sacks, -361 DYAR (42nd), -40.4% DVOA (44th)
In sum, neither quarterback was anywhere near league average. But Quinn was closer to average than he was to the total bottom of the barrel, i.e. Derek Anderson.
Football Outsiders actually lists Cribbs as a Quarterback and ranks his rushing efforts as such (he ranked 3rd in total value as a rushing QB behind Aaron Rodgers and David Garrard). He probably deserves mention in about 4 of these reviews. We may write a review just for him.
Thoughts and Conclusions
Many commentators at DBN and elsewhere were quick to lambaste Eric Mangini for benching Quinn just 10 quarters in to the season. I said at the time, the move made perfect sense to me. Not only did we save on a potential roster bonus. Not only did we get one last chance to evaluate DA. Not only was the offense and team in need of a wakeup call after 10 crappy quarters to start the season. But, I argued, benching Brady Quinn was probably the best thing for the development of Brady Quinn.
When he came back Quinn was more confident. He trusted his protection. His eyes were downfield: not paying attention to the rush or searching for checkdowns. He trusted his arm. He threw downfield more frequently and with more commitment to the throw. And he gained rapport with his receivers. From Massaquoi to Furrey to Moore.
All that said, I'm still not sure that there is anything worth crap at the QB position presently on the roster. Quinn has had 3 seasons under his belt. But whether it due to ineffectiveness or injury, he hasn't been able to stay on the field. Quinn supporters can try to make all the excuses they want, but the bottom line is he has failed to lock up the starting job for more than brief stretches.
Quinn made some progress this year, but I'm not sure it was enough to guarantee him a starting job going forward.
Derek Anderson sucked. For 2010, he is closer to being out of the league than winning a starting job.
What to look for in the offseason:
This is a tough call. Mike Holmgren will likely influence the QB decisions more than any others. Like he said, he knows a little something about quarterbacks. And the first evaluation he'll have to make is on Brady Quinn. That is probably the key to this puzzle.
- Potential Losses: Brett Ratliff is an "exclusive rights free agent", whatever that means. If Holmgren is not sold on Quinn for the long or short term, he instantly becomes a trading commodity. Anderson is either gone or relegated to 3rd string. If we get a pick for him, great. If not, cut him before the next bonus is due.
- Available FA's: Some interesting names, but no franchise types.
Kellen Clemens and Tavaris Jackson were both backups this year, but have started NFL games and could be an upgrade/placeholder type.
Troy Smith is a restricted FA and he may want to go somewhere more likely to give him playing time. I will fight anyone who doesn't recognize how good Troy Smith could be in the NFL as an accurate, pocket passer.
- The Eagles situation. There is vast speculation among fans and those that cover the Browns on the current Eagles QBs. While McNabb,
Cobb Kolb, and Vick are all under contract, some think that with GM Heckert's familiarity with these guys and Holmgren and Heckert's relationship with Andy Reid, a deal could be made. I don't see this happening.
- Draft. I've read some opinions that this is a deep QB draft. Not sure about that, but I am sure I want nothing to do with the top tier guys. Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen, and Tim Tebow all are way too risky and have epic bust potential. (I only list Tebow because I'm convinced some idiot owner or GM will be desperate enough or stupid enough to buy into the hype. On talent, and as a QB, he is a stretch as a 7th rounder, in my opinion).
I don't really want a QB in the early second round either. But if we find ourselves in the mid to late second or if we like a guy in the third round or later, I'd be ok with that. Someone like (in order of my preference) Dan LeFevour, Colt McCoy, Daryl Clark, or Tony Pike.