The NFL Network has had little reason to pay much attention as of late to the Cleveland Browns, but last evening on Total Access, the Browns received an unusual amount of attention.
There was discussion of how improved the Team looked from week one to week two of the pre-season (although I would not bust open the champagne quite yet; after all – it was the Lions). Two Browns made the Top 10 list for the best players in week two of the pre-season. Running back and rookie draftee James Davis made the list for his 81-yard touchdown run and his 116 total yards rushing over 12 carries. And Josh Cribbs made the list for his play as a receiver which included a nice 20-yard catch from Derek Anderson which set up the Jamal Lewis TD run; his 95-yard opening kick-off return for a touchdown which was spoiled by a holding penalty on safety Abram Elam; and his 84-yard punt return for a TD.
Then there was a segment on quarterback competitions around the League. The discussion included the Browns, the Lions, the Bucs, the Jets, the 49ers and a smattering of other teams. The panel, which included former NFL Head Coach Mike Martz, disagreed on several of the choices but there was consensus with the Browns – Brady Quinn should get the nod. That is despite a fairly good (not great) performance by DA against the Lions. We would not describe it as great given the competition, the interception and a pass completion rate of barely over 60%. It boiled down to an agreement that it is time for Brady to be given an opportunity to show whether he has the stuff or not to be a starting QB in the NFL; if things go badly in the first three games or so, then a switch can be made. But fear of the unknown should not take precedence over familiar mediocrity (my words).
Of course, NFL commentators, particularly on television, sometimes have wildly diverging opinions. But I do find it interesting that the Browns QB competition was the one that drew the greatest consenus. For what it is worth, Peter King of SI joined the discussion earlier in the off-season on Twitter when he posted a message in reponse to something that we posted; King said in his opinion it is a no-brainer for Quinn.
Mike Martz is someone who has been around the NFL for a long time – since 1992. And he has a great deal of experience with QBs and offensive units generally. He was the QB coach for the LA Rams from 1992-1994; the wide receivers coach for the St. Louis Rams from 1995-1996; the QB coach for the Washington Redskins from 1997-1998; the offensive coordinator for the Rams in 1999; the Head Coach for the Rams from 2000-2005; the offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions from 2006-2007; and the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers in 2008. And he has been rather successful over his career. He architected the high-powered Super Bowl Champions Rams’ offense in 1999. As a Head Coach, he had a 56-36 record, winning two Division titles and an NFC championship while making the playoffs every season except once. So I think his opinion is worth consideration. It is not the gospel, but at least it is informed.
Look for Quinn to get a lot of playing time against the Titans. Mangini may lift the cloak of secrecy after that game and before our final pre-season duel.
P.S. I owe Lewis 5 bucks for getting into the end zone against the Lions.