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Week 1: New Versus Old

Posted on: September 13, 2009 6:58 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2009 7:16 pm
After months of training camp, preseason games, and quarterback controversy, the 2009 regular season is finally here. For the Cleveland Browns, that means the start of what figures to be another roller coaster season.

Like any roller coaster, this one begins at the bottom.

The very bottom.

Miscommunication, penalties, and one inexperienced quarterback contributed to a 20-34 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Today’s football game featured a distinct balance between new and old.

New Browns head coach Eric Mangini began his second stint as head coach by facing an old foe – Brett Favre.  Entering his 19th season in the NFL, the ageless Favre made his unprecedented 270th consecutive start behind center – an NFL record. Favre silenced his critics and played within himself for the majority of the game. Although he wasn’t perfect, Favre played well enough to escape Cleveland with a win.

Opposing Favre was newly appointed Browns starting quarterback, Brady Quinn. Heading into his 3rd season in the league, Quinn made his 5th career start…and it showed. Quinn finished the day completing 21 of 35 passes for 205 yards. He threw for a touchdown, but turned the ball over twice. As strange as it may sound, the statistics were actually the highlight of his performance.

Quinn’s conservative approach to the game seemed to match that taken by offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll. When afforded time in the pocket, Quinn rarely took any shots down field. He opted for short completions to running backs and tight ends instead of utilizing the team’s biggest weapons in Josh Cribbs and Braylon Edwards. The two receivers finished with a combined 3 receptions for 22 yards.

Contrasting the quarterbacks were two running backs at different ends of their careers.

Starting at running back for the Minnesota Vikings was the explosive Adrian Peterson. At 24, Adrian Peterson has already cemented himself as one of, if not the premier running back of the day. Peterson certainly looked the part as he carried the ball 25 times for a whopping 180 yards. Most of that running came behind the best run-blocking offensive line in football.

The most recent running back to lead the league in rushing faced off against one of the old ones. Just weeks removed from his 30th birthday, Jamal Lewis was unable to match the effort of his successor. Lewis and the Browns were able to find running room early, but it was too little too late. The game's score took the Browns out of running situations, and that proved to be the difference in the game.

The Cleveland Browns’ 2009 season began with a disappointing loss. There were, however, several things to take away from this game. They say those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. In that spirit, I present the top 10 things I’ve learned from Vikings/Browns...

10. Brian Daboll will run a conservative, West Coast offense.

Whether it's the 2nd & 16 toss to Jamal Lewis or the 2nd & 15 draw to James Davis, Brian Daboll's offensive playcalling was extremely simple. Although Daboll took advantage of Josh Cribbs in the wildcat, his offense looked flat. Some of that falls on Brady Quinn's decision making, but the majority of the blame rests on Dabolls well-rounded shoulders.

9. Adrian Peterson is very, very good.

Sometimes you have to experience an event first-hand to appreciate just what you're witnessing. There is no question that Adrian Peterson is a special player, but I have gained an in-depth scope as to the depth of his talents. He possesses superior vision, balance, strength, agility, and acceleration to any runner I have ever seen. Peterson is without a doubt the best running back in the league.

8. The Browns will be competitive this season.

Heading into this game, you would be hard-pressed to find a fan or analyst that gave Cleveland a chance. The Browns limited Peterson to an astounding 25 yards on 11 carries through the first half of the football game. Minnesota actually trailed 13-10 at halftime. Had the Browns played first-half football through all four quarters, they would have walked away as winners.

7. Kamerion Wimbley has emerged as a solid outside linebacker.

Wimbley had a strong training camp and performed well throughout the preseason. It was nice to see him continue playing at a high level entering the regular season. Wimbley was a big reason Peterson was ineffective through the first half. He played a very disciplined football game - maintaining his containment while remaining active in pursuit.

6. Rob Ryan loves blitzing defensive backs.

It's a trait we saw in Oakland and something that has continued in Cleveland. Ryan pressured Brett Favre by sending defensive backs to the quarterback early and often. Abram Elam, Brodney Pool, and Brandon McDonald, were all very active around the line of scrimmage. Both safties recorded sacks today in what figures to the the first of many.

5. The Cleveland Browns have the best special teams unit in the league.

That statement is no exaggeration - the Browns possess one of the most balanced and explosive special teams units in the NFL. Dave Zastudil and the punting until were able to keep the Vikings deep for the majority of the game. Phil Dawson consistently sent kicks deep into the endzone. Josh Cribbs was explosive. That, plus outstanding kick coverage makes Cleveland one of the most dangerous teams in that element of the game.

4. Joe Thomas is an outstanding left tackle.

Jared Allen was embarrassed today. Joe Thomas neutralized the Pro Bowl defensive end in pass rush situations and manhandled him against the run. Allen finished the day with 0.5 tackles and no quarterback sacks. In his 3rd season in the league, Joe Thomas has already cemented his name among the elite tackles in the game.

3. The Browns need to work on penalties and discipline.

Cleveland finished the day with 8 penalties for 66 yards. Some of the penalties were the result of mental mistakes, but others were issues with technique. Knowing Eric Mangini, this team should have those cleaned up by next week, but it was shocking to see, to say the least.

2. Shaun Rogers is healthy...and back to form.

Any time you have a nose tackle who consistently commands double and triple teams, you have the start of a great defense. Rogers was extremely disruptive all game. He played a large role in stopping Peterson early, and he helped generate pressure on obvious passing situations. Rogers should find his way back to Hawaii at the end of the season.

1. Brady Quinn is an average quarterback.

You can't have success in the NFL without balance, and Brady Quinn is not a balanced passer. Quinn has consistently struggled with the deep ball - something that hurt him when driving during the final minutes of play. Quinn chose to attempt only high percentage passes. This strategy worked early, but it backfired late in the game. When the Browns were faced with obvious passing situations, Quinn could not deliver. For Quinn and the Browns to be successful, he'll need to get the wide receivers involved and stretch the field.


Since: Jun 30, 2008
Posted on: September 16, 2009 12:56 pm

Week 1: New Versus Old

Cheeks,Get over the Quinn thing! You we're wrong. Go ahead and say it. It's not that hard to do. The coaching staff, the national media, almost the whole city of Cleveland and I think your wrong. The only thing I'm wrong about is saying Anderson would get the start at quarterback. I didn't take into account the politics behind the decision. I assumed Mangini would do what's best for the Cleveland Browns...

Even you, Cannibal, have to admit Brady Quinn had a terrible performance last weekend.

How do you explain the overthrown passes? The checkdowns on every play? The inability to drive the ball down the field?

How do you explain Braylon Edwards finishing the game with one reception for 12 yards?

Chemistry only goes so far.
These men are professional athletes, and they have been playing this game all of their lives. Quinn and Anderson both had the opportunity to work with all of the receivers during the offseason. They had months to develop chemistry during the two-a-days in training camp.

If all your going to do is wine about Quinn getting the job all year, what's the point? No one else is saying anything.

I address all issues regarding the Cleveland Browns. Quinn is our quarterback, and I will remain critical of him until he proves otherwise.

People need to stop beating around the bushes. I haven't seen anything in Quinn that makes me feel optimistic for the future.

The Cleveland Browns are in trouble.

Since: Mar 23, 2007
Posted on: September 16, 2009 12:39 pm

Week 1: New Versus Old

Cheeks,Get over the Quinn thing! You we're wrong. Go ahead and say it. It's not that hard to do. The coaching staff, the national media, almost the whole city of Cleveland, DGNR8, and I think your wrong. Isn't it high time you came to grips with the possibility YOU may have erred? If all your going to do is wine about Quinn getting the job all year, what's the point? Anderson has all those NFL starts under his belt and he's shown decision making is far worst than Quinns. That's why he lost the job, nothing more nothing less.

Since: Jun 30, 2008
Posted on: September 16, 2009 10:50 am

Week 1: New Versus Old

He's the Belichick disciple. Bill B. didn't cut Bernie Kosar to appease the fans and Art "He's Like a Son to Me" Modell. Please Cheeks. His position is not about appeasing fans. It's about winning. Belichick lost his job after cutting Bernie Kosar.

You don't think Eric Mangini is thinking the same thing? It's naive to believe the decision to start Brady Quinn was completely a football decision. Randy Lerner is a huge Quinn guy. The people paying Lerner money are huge Quinn guys. Mangini had to afford Quinn the opportunity to start and prove he's not the guy.

This isn't about winning. That should be clear from last weekend's performance. This is about job security, and Mangini needs to solidify his.

In fact, he's risking more money by playing Quinn and possibly triggering elevators in his contract, then sitting Anderson and his 1.4 million on the bench. There was tremendous pressure to start Brady Quinn last year. How do you think it would have looked on Mangini if Quinn did not get his chance? Derek Anderson would have had to play lights out the entire year to justify the move. If the team struggled under Anderson, the backlash at Mangini would be severe.

By starting Quinn, you take away any pressure to win this season. If the team struggles under Quinn, it would fulfill the low expectations of the fans and no one could blame Mangini for starting the player everyone wanted to see...

Correction Mano.  Cheeks actually said way back that a QB needs 2 years to develop and come into his own.  Hence why he wanted DA to finish out the 2007 season. Correct. A quarterback deserves two years as a starter before we evaluate his progress under the strict standards we use today. If we go by that, then Quinn has about a season and a half before we write him off as a bust.

The counter argument to that was made by SA among others. He and others set no grace period for quarterbacks to learn what it takes to win in the NFL.

With the success of Flacco, Ryan, Roethlisberger, and Sanchez, I've conceded this argument.

You evaluate what you see. That's what I believe.

Since: Jun 30, 2008
Posted on: September 16, 2009 10:37 am

Week 1: New Versus Old

But even granting him this distinction. He was rewarded with a Pro Bowl appearance despite a second half (that's 8 games not 3), where his performance foreshadowed what we got in 2008. Derek Anderson did not suddenly change after the halfway point in 2007.

Week 8 @ STL: 18 for 25 (72.0%) 248 yards, 3TD, 0INT

The had a poor defense that year. Derek Anderson was there to take advantage of it.

Week 9 SEA: 29 for 48 (60.4%) 364 yards, 0TD, 1INT

Any time you put the ball up 48 times , it's going to be hard to win a football game. I'm sure you don't remember, but scored 4 rushing touchdowns from inside the 5 that game. Derek Anderson lead 3 drives from his own 31, 46, and 11 yard line - all of which resulted in touchdowns. The stats don't show it, but Anderson really had a good game.

Week 10 @ PIT: 16 for 35 (45.7%), 123 yards, 3TD, 0INT

I'll tell you what, if I could guarantee that performance from a quarterback every time we played the on the road , I'd take it. Sure the completion percentage was low, but that's what happens when you face an elite NFL defense. More importantly, Anderson did not turn the ball over on the road. When you do that, good things will follow.

Week 11 @ BAL: 24 for 38 (63.2%) 274 yards, 0TD, 1INT

This was the "stanchion" game. People are so quick to dismiss this as Andeson having "a down year," but the players were still there. (who picked him off) was still on the field. was still on the field. Chris McAllister, , , , , , and Rex Ryan were all there. The Baltimore defensive scheme was there. Anderson had a good game against a talented defense and engineered a game-winning touchdown drive in overtime. That's good enough for me.

Week 12 HOU: 24 for 35 (68.6%) 253 yards, 2TD, 1INT

The weren't great that year, but Derek Anderson proved the Browns could win the games they're supposed to. The defense played well - intercepting Schaub twice, and set the Browns up in good field position. Andeson played smart situational football (there that phrase is again) and virtually all of his short drives resulted in points.

Week 13 @ ARI: 21 for 41 (51.2%) 301 yards, 2TD, 2INT

Statistically, DA didn't have a great game. Rod Hood jumped a curl for 7 points the other way. Anderson fumbled a snap and finished the day with three turnovers. A truly bad game. Despite this, the team had a chance to win it at the end on that famous non-call of K2's force out.

Week 14 @ NYJ: 16 for 29 (55.2%) 185 yards, 2TD, 1INT

This is the crowning piece of evidence I hold when I proclaim DA to be the starter. Anderson's leadership really showed against Eric Mangini's defense, as the Browns won in New York, 24-18. Anderson's two touchdown drives were of 80 and 61 yards, respectively. The interception came on a toss up play at the end of the half. Even though the ' record wasn't great, they ran Mangini's schemes and DA found a way to lead the team toward victory.

Week 15 BUF 9 for 24 (37.5) 137 yards, 0TD, 1INT

No one in their right mind can interpret anything from this game. This was the snow game where conditions were horrendous. I think this was the game where coaches threw away the tape because there was nothing to gather from watching it.

Week 16 @ CIN 29 for 48 (60.4%) 251 yards, 2TD, 4INT

Ahh yes, everyone's favorite game. the Cincinnati game . DA threw a career high 4 interceptions in swirling winds (Palmer struggled as well: 11 for 21, 115 yards, 1TD, 2INT) and the Browns lost a crucial game. DA made two poor throws (one was behind Lewis and another was a misread of zone coverage) and the Browns trailed 0-19 at half.  The third interception came on a poorly thrown tipped ball to Winslow and the last was a jumped curl route. Thanks to in large part to the conditions and the defense, the Browns still had a chance to win at the end. The pressure got to the 24-year-old QB, and he lost his first "big game" as a pro.

Week 17 SF 11 for 20 (55.0%) 152 yards, 1TD, 1INT

In a meaningless game, Anderson plays well against the lowly .

Since: Oct 15, 2007
Posted on: September 16, 2009 9:29 am

Week 1: New Versus Old

11.  SirCheeks comes out of retirement for the 6th time in 2009LMAO...that is twice now I almost spit my coffee out laughing...

Since: Jan 3, 2008
Posted on: September 16, 2009 12:32 am

Week 1: New Versus Old

11.  SirCheeks comes out of retirement for the 6th time in 2009.

Since: Sep 7, 2006
Posted on: September 15, 2009 2:56 pm

Week 1: New Versus Old

I'm just being as hard on Brady Quinn as everyone else was on Derek Anderson. I don't know, I think 90% of Browns fans were on board with DA for the majority of the 2007 season...even after he started to struggle.  Of that 90%, I think at least half of them were more than willing to give him a fair shot in 2008.  Only after he showed on several occasions that he couldn't play winning football did they all turn on him.  All but you, of course.
Quinn, on the other hand, has not been given that same opportunity by you.  He started a handful of games last year and was injured.  He's started one game this year and all of a sudden you are claiming he's incapable of getting better or, at the very least, he's worse than the below average DA.  Seems like an unfair double standard to me.

My standard for quarterbacks has always been to wait and see whether they have the tools to be successful. I, of course, am in the minority there because many feel it necessary and proper to evalute a quarterback on a game-by-game basis. This is not the standard you are employing right now, though.  Right now, you are judging Quinn based on a single game.  Why, since you were willing to give DA 2 years to prove his ability, are you not willing to give Quinn 2 weeks to prove his?

Since: Jul 18, 2007
Posted on: September 15, 2009 2:55 pm

Week 1: New Versus Old


Just a couple things, decent article,

Shuan Rogers is still seemingly incapable of holding his gap for an entire game. Go back and look at the game again and in the second half the lack of discipline in not only Rogers but the rest of the defense was evident. Mangini has the label of a disciplinarian but if the penalties and 2nd half breakdown of the defense are a sign of what's to come this season the Browns are in for a rougher year than I first expected.

Kamerion Wimbley needs more than just one above average game to make a believer out of me. Does he have the physical tools? Yes, but I'm waiting to see what you see before I agree that he can be a solid LB.

The Browns will not be competitive this season. 5 wins is the max with an offense that will barely move the ball and a defense that will be on the field so much throughout the game that come the middle of the third quarter will be out of gas and leaking yardage.

For the positives,

I agree about Joe Thomas. The kid can play LT at an elite level.

The Browns SPT could finish as the top unit this season but I'm still leaning towards the Chargers. Everytime Sproles touches the ball it seems like an eternity before more than one player from the opposing team gets a shot at him.

Since: Oct 15, 2007
Posted on: September 15, 2009 2:49 pm

Week 1: New Versus Old

 I'm curious as to why you are only willing to give Quinn "4 or so games" to prove his mettle as a QB when you were adamant, after Anderson struggled down the stretch in 2007, that a QB needs a full season as a starter to develop and prove he's capable.  Seems like another Cheeks double standard to me. Wink Correction Mano.  Cheeks actually said way back that a QB needs 2 years to develop and come into his own.  Hence why he wanted DA to finish out the 2007 season.

Since: Mar 19, 2007
Posted on: September 15, 2009 2:42 pm

Week 1: New Versus Old

CMark, how can you justify starting a "rookie" quarterback over a Pro Bowl quarterback? It's one thing to believe Brady Quinn is a better quarterback than Derek Anderson. That position, although completely unreasonable, is a justifiable stand on the issue.
What does Derek Anderson have in common with Neil O'Donnell and Don Majkowski?

They each were named to the Pro Bowl. This is a silly yardstick, particularly since he wasn't voted onto the roster. He went as an alternate. Heck Tony Eason once was a 2nd alternate.

But even granting him this distinction. He was rewarded with a Pro Bowl appearance despite a second half (that's 8 games not 3), where his performance foreshadowed what we got in 2008. He had a great run, defenses adjusted, he didn't and has not adjusted back. That is now with a body of work that includes over 20 games.

I'm not justifying starting a rookie quarterback over Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. They are Pro Bowl quarterbacks. Not quarterbacks who played in a Pro Bowl.

I'm suggesting that given the offensive production we saw in two games with Quinn last year (albeit against less than stellar defenses), it is more than worth exploring if there's something there. And I have been critical of Quinn's performance on Sunday.

Eric Mangini is throwing Brady Quinn out there to appease the fans and ownership.Wait a second! He's the Belichick disciple. Bill B. didn't cut Bernie Kosar to appease the fans and Art "He's Like a Son to Me" Modell. Please Cheeks. His position is not about appeasing fans. It's about winning. And if he felt DA was the better choice it wouldn't matter what Lerner, Kokinis, or any fans had to say. In fact, he's risking more money by playing Quinn and possibly triggering elevators in his contract, then sitting Anderson and his 1.4 million on the bench.

If that is the case, and of course the beauty of you saying it is it can never be proven, then Mangini should be fired immediately.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or