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Archive for October 2010

Browns Latest Quarterback Controversy

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After the injury to Seneca Wallace, the Browns are left with another quarterback controversy.

Hello readers, I’m back! I apologize for neglecting you the last few weeks. I have had a few developments in my life that have taken up a lot of my time. In addition, instead of writing about what everyone else in sports is writing about, I was waiting for that next big, controversial story. Now the time has finally arrived.

For the first five weeks of the NFL season I have refrained from talking about the Cleveland Browns because they are, as I mentioned, what everyone else is talking about. I can hold my tongue no longer as a controversial issue arose after yesterday’s game.

Yes, the Browns are now 1-4, but if you look really closely, the team is in fact improving. The Browns have held a lead in the first half every week, only for the opponents to catch on, make adjustments, and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The only exception being last week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, when the defense held strong to preserve the first win of the season.

The same held true for yesterday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. Everything was going well for the Browns until the controversial issue showed its ugly face. Joe Thomas, who had the worst game of his career yesterday, gave up a sack to John Abraham just before halftime and quarterback Seneca Wallace was injured on the play. As a result, Jake Delhomme, who was already injured, was forced to enter the game.

One would think four weeks of sitting on the bench and limited practice reps would help Delhomme’s recovery. Wrong. At age 35, Delhomme’s resiliency is low. He noticeably limped through the second half and it was clear the injury was more on his mind than leading the Browns to victory. He repeatedly made bad decisions such as throwing into double coverage or taking a sack rather than throwing the ball away. The result was two interceptions, including one which was returned by the Falcons for the game sealing touchdown.

So now the controversial question: with two injured quarterbacks, what do the Browns do next? With two injured quarterbacks, signing an experienced veteran free agent seems like an obvious move. Those on the market include Daunte Culpepper, Jeff Garcia, Jamarcus Russell, and J.P. Losman, just to name a few. Yes, that is definitely a weak market. Culpepper and Garcia, like Delhomme, are damaged goods, well past their prime. Russell and Losman, meanwhile, were never good to begin with. To be honest though, what other options do the Browns have?

Let us take a look at what the Browns have left. Rookie Colt McCoy has been holding a clipboard all season like it was promised by Mike Holmgren. When he was shown on the scoreboard during last week’s game against Cincinnati doing just that, I could not help but smile. Because that is what I feel he should be doing this season. Despite the injuries to the quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart, I still feel he should be holding the clipboard this season. There are fans who think he knows the system now, but the fact of the matter is he’s still a greenhorn rookie who has not played against a first-string defense.

The Browns’ next game, as most who follow the NFL know, is against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. To send Colt McCoy, on one week’s notice, into that kind of atmosphere against the dreaded “steel curtain” defense would be lunacy. There are some who feel it would be a great test of his mental acumen.

While that may be true, I’m thinking in terms of his physical stature. Like Seneca Wallace, McCoy is barely six feet tall. To make matters worse, he is less mobile than Wallace and he would be facing a defense much better than that of the Atlanta Falcons. Despite having a better offensive line to protect him, if McCoy were to start, it could end up being a repeat of Tim Couch’s first few career games against Pittsburgh.

The next option the Browns have starting the healthier of their two injured quarterbacks. Since Wallace was just injured yesterday, he is still very tender, so he likely would not be ready by next Sunday. Delhomme, who did not expect to play yesterday, would have a week to prepare. While this does not sound very smart given what I just explained about the Steelers against immobile quarterbacks, there is another possibility.

At one point during the third quarter of yesterday’s game, Brian Daboll finally decided to shake up his offensive playbook. Josh Cribbs lined up several times at quarterback and was very successful doing so. Not only did he gain eleven yards on two carries, he also completed a ten yard pass. By now everyone is aware that Josh Cribbs was a quarterback in college at Kent State University. While he is not the most crisp passer, he is definitely capable of holding down the position for at least one game.

The final option, as I briefly covered earlier, is signing a veteran quarterback. If they chose to do so, I believe the best choice would be Jeff Garcia. Yes, the Browns have gone down that road once before with horrible results. Why would they want to do it again? Because this is a different story. A huge reason for Garcia’s problems in Cleveland the first time around was his issues with Butch Davis. The two butted heads repeatedly and the whole situation went up in flames.

This time Garcia would not have to worry about Davis, but he also has a history with one of the executives. Browns general manager Tom Heckert signed Jeff Garcia a few years ago in Philadelphia. After Donovan McNabb went down with one of his many injuries, Garcia stepped in and took the Eagles to the playoffs. I am not saying he would do that with the Browns. I am just saying he would not be a bad choice if Heckert were to call his number one more time.

Just when the Cleveland Browns appeared to have some stability at the quarterback position, the football gods intervened and proved everyone wrong once again. Now they once again have a controversy at the position. However, unlike the past, this one involves a rash of injuries. There are some interesting options, but which one will the Browns choose? I covered all of those which appear to be the most obvious or viable. If none of them work, maybe Vinny Testaverde is still sitting by his phone, waiting for a call.

Credit for image: signonsandiego.com

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