Quinn vs. Anderson: Brian Daboll May Hold the Key

Make no mistake;  Eric Mangini calls the shots for the Browns, including the ongoing quarterback situation, however, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll may hold the key to unlock who gets the starting position.

That key is how Daboll foresees the passing game this coming season.  Daboll, a Canadian who is currently 34 years old, has extensive coaching experience including a stint as offensive coordinator at Rochester, 7 years with the New England Patriots (he was the wide receivers coach from 2002 to 2006), and one season with Mangini in New York as the quarterbacks coach.

As a player, Daboll was a letterman at Rochester.

The consensus is that Daboll favous an offensive scheme which concentrates on short and intermediate passes.  That kind of offensive strategy places more emphasis at the QB position on timing and accuracy and less focus on raw arm strength.  It is likely that Brady Quinn is the beneficiary of such a strategy as he lacks the brute arm that Anderson has.

Somewhat surprisingly, though, both Quinn and Anderson had stats in 2008 that illustrate a focus on short passes.  For Quinn, who had a 66.6 rating, his yards per attempt was 5.82.  Anderson, whose rating was a fraction worse at 66.5, his yards per attempt was actually lower than Brady’s at 5.71.  Quinn’s yards per completion was 11.51 while Anderson’s was again slightly lower than Quinn’s at 11.37.  Brady’s completion percentage was 50.6 while Derek’s was a touch worse at 50.2.  Both threw just as many interceptions as touchdowns (2 each for Brady, and 9 touchdowns and 8 picks for Anderson).

The only stats where we start to see a real difference last season between Anderson and Quinn are in terms of sacks and long completions.  Derek was sacked 14 times in 10 games – an average of 1.4 sacks per game.  Quinn was sacked once in 3 games.  It is difficult to draw much from that because of Quinn’s relatively limited game starts in 2008, but on its face Quinn did better than Anderson in terms of avoiding opposing pass rushers and/or getting the football out earlier.  Brady’s longest pass in his 3 games was for 42 yards, while Derek’s longest was for 70 yards. 

Both were very inconsistent last season.  Brady had a truly remarkable game against the Broncos.  I remember watching that game at a restaurant while on vacation with my family in San Francisco.  Quinn was terrific, and the Browns would have won that game but for a defensive collapse near the end.  Brady’s QB rating that game was 104.3;  his completion percentage was 65.7;  he threw two TDs and zero picks.  The next week against the Bills, however, Brady’s stats dropped to a 55.9 rating;  a 38.9 completion percentage and 0 touchdowns.  The same can be said for Anderson, actually to an even greater degree.  The Monday night game against the Giants was reminiscent of his Pro Bowl season – a 121.3 rating;  62.1 completion percentage;  2 touchdowns and nil ITs.  Compare that to week 12 against the Texans when Derek put on one of the most pathetic displays of quarterbacking I have ever seen, EVER!  An abysmal 17.3 QB rating;  51 total yards;  and 35.7 completion percentage;  zero TDs and 1 pick.  If your QB rating is below 60 in the NFL, you need some serious relection.  Anderson’s rating dipped below 60 four times in 2008 (almost half the number of games that he played).

Statistics aside, however, there is no question that Anderson likes the long-ball.  He has a gunslinger arm and likes to use it – that is natural.  Quinn, on the other hand, has average to slightly below average arm strength but better mobility.  He may have better timing and accuracy and a superior ability to read defenses and pass in the flats and underneath coverage;  that is yet to be determined for certain.  But if he does, and if he shows that during training camp, he will fit more neatly into Daboll’s tendency to favour the short and intermediate passing game.  That gives Brady an advantage over Anderson.

I have heard and read many times that “Anderson is just a better quarterback than Quinn”.  Where does that come from?  Certainly not from 2008.  It cannot come from 2007 because Brady did not play that season, and you cannot compare Derek’s Pro Bowl season to nothing.  It does not come from intangibles like leadership ability and giving the Team a spark because Anderson showed neither in 2008 and little of that in 2007.  I have no idea where it comes from, but I would be happy if someone could educate me on that.

In any event, I frankly don’t give a damn who the starter is in 2009.  I just want it to be the better QB based on two things:  last season and training camp. 

Go Browns!

-Clayton 

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