What was the general reaction upon hearing that the Cleveland Browns signed QB Jake Delhomme? If you look through the initial reaction thread here, most of the comments look like this:
"MY HEAD JUST EXPLODED."
I could come up with about 100 other lines that were used, but the one thing you won't really find is a positive reaction. I sort of summarized my thoughts on QB Jake Delhomme a few days ago with this statement:
Between Delhomme and Quinn, I'd stick with Quinn because the possibility exists that he can still improve with a full season's worth of work. As much as I liked Delhomme for several years in Carolina, ever since his playoff meltdown two seasons ago, he has been awful -- perhaps just as bad, if not worse than Anderson.
Now that Delhomme and Seneca Wallace are each on board, I doubt either of them, particularly Delhomme, came to Cleveland to compete for the second or third quarterback spots. The negative reaction with respect to the Delhomme signing stems from the many comparisons that can be made to Derek Anderson. Both quarterbacks just were among the worst in the NFL last year given the amount of opportunities they had; the only other quarterback I might lump in with them is JaMarcus Russell.
Questioning the signing, which was reportedly a two-year deal, is certainly valid.
- Why sign a player who struggled just as bad as the guy you just let go?
- Why sign a player who had a great running back tandem in Carolina but couldn't minimize the turnovers?
- Why sign a player who has battled injuries the past few years at such an important position?
Those are the negatives. Let's take a look at some of the positives right now though, under the assumption that Delhomme has and never will be one of the league's top-tier quarterbacks:
- Delhomme had a stretch in his career in which he was playing above average football. During the 2004-2005 season, Delhomme had 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He wasn't a one-hit wonder -- the following season, he threw for 24 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He played in fewer games the next year, but again, he remained fairly consistent -- 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. During the 2007-2008 campaign, he was on fire to start the season. In three games, he threw 8 touchdowns and one interception. That's when he needed Tommy John surgery, and his season was over.
- He returned during the 2008-2009 campaign, but he wasn't as sharp, throwing 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The Panthers finished with a 12-4 record, thanks to the dynamic duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. In the postseason, Delhomme had a meltdown that no one could've seen coming, especially how he had thrived in the playoffs several years earlier when the Panthers made it to the Super Bowl.
- Delhomme's struggles from the postseason continued into last season, where he finished the year with 8 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. That's the season he looked very much like Derek Anderson.
- It seemed to me that one of Delhomme's biggest issues was that he turned into a headcase of sorts. Whether he was too tentative to throw the ball or he had simply lost all confidence, Delhomme's career in Carolina was toast, and it was certainly the right move for Carolina to move on without him.
- It's hard to tout the Delhomme signing as a positive one due to his recent failures. Believe me, I'm not exactly thrilled by the signing, and I've admitted that I was a huge Delhomme fan several years ago. But, due to the consistent stretch he showed for several years, could we give him the benefit of the doubt that he'd be capable of reproducing an 18-touchdown, 12-interception type of season. Those numbers don't have me jumping out of my seat, but if Delhomme is meant to be a one-year holdover, I'm not going to concede the season just yet.
- Holmgren said that he wants to provide options for head coach Eric Mangini to choose his starting quarterback before training camp. Fine. In terms of experience, that's what Delhomme has. In terms of untapped potential and intrigue, that's what Wallace has. It'll be up to Mangini to determine how Delhomme's arm looks when minicamp rolls around. If he performs well, he'll probably be the starter heading into the regular season. If that's the case, we're going to have to suck it up and root for "our guy" and hope for the best. Remember, quarterback isn't supposed to be the strength of our football team this year, so the expectations shouldn't really change regardless of which quarterback we choose.
I'd still like to see Brady Quinn stay in Cleveland and win the starting job, but the odds appear to be stacked against him now. I hope we don't give him up for too much of a bargain, because as a former first-rounder who I still don't believe has received a fair shot at starting, someone else could be getting a steal.
Oh, yes, and Brett Ratliff is still the No. 3 quarterback.