Browns consider switch to Quinn

Published 1:38 am Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Associated Press

BEREA — Brady Quinn hurried from the shower, dressed quickly and hustled out of Cleveland’s locker room so he wouldn’t be late for Monday’s team meeting.

‘‘Sorry, guys,’’ he said to reporters after taking only a few questions.

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Quinn was on the run, and the Browns’ popular backup quarterback could soon be moving up the depth chart.

With his team off to an unexpected 0-3 start and Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Anderson coming off another rough performance, Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel said he is assessing his team and considering personnel changes leading into Sunday’s game against the winless Cincinnati Bengals.

‘‘The thing we have to do is evaluate what we’ve done so far and who can give us the best chance to win,’’ he said.

Crennel was asked if quarterback would be one of the spots where he would consider going in a different direction.

‘‘We have to look at all of the positions,’’ Crennel said. ‘‘We’ll definitely try to get the other guy ready and get him ready to go and we’ll see how it progresses from there.’’

The other guy is Quinn, the former Notre Dame star, first-round draft pick and perceived face of a franchise that until a few weeks ago seemed to have finally put more than a decade worth of misery behind it. But so far, the Browns are fumbling away a season many predicted would extend into the playoffs.

Cleveland was thumped 28-10 in Baltimore on Sunday, when the Ravens intercepted Anderson twice to score 14 points in a 50-second span early in the third quarter to turn a three-point halftime deficit into an 11-point lead. Anderson finished 14-for-37 for 125 yards, three picks and had a woeful QB rating of 22.9 — his second worst in 21 career starts.

Clearly, the 25-year-old wasn’t the only reason that the Browns, who have been ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball, lost their third straight game. But Anderson’s inability to rally them in the second half as well as his third consecutive sub-par outing have prompted Crennel and his staff to ponder benching a player who threw 29 touchdown passes last season and one whom the Browns invested $24 million into in February.

Crennel said no decision has been made yet on Sunday’s starter.

‘‘I’ve told Quinn all along that he’s one play away,’’ Crennel said. ‘‘That’s the way he has to approach it. He prepares himself every week like he’s the starter and like he’s going to get playing time. The number of reps he gets in practice is not up to him, it’s up to us as coaches. I know that he’ll do everything he can to be ready. Then when he gets called on, I think he’ll go in there, he’ll perform to the best of his abilities and we’ll have to see how good that is.’’

Quinn spent 15 weeks of his rookie year as Anderson’s backup and didn’t make his NFL debut until last season’s finale against San Francisco. He completed 3 of 8 passes for 45 yards but looked poised while running Cleveland’s offense.

During the few minutes he was in the locker room Monday, Quinn was told Crennel is thinking about making a switch.

‘‘Every week it’s the backup’s job to prepare to be the starter, so nothing’s changed,’’ Quinn said. ‘‘We’ve got a lot of things to work on. We have a lot of things to put together. Hopefully we can have another week of preparation and go into Cincinnati confident.’’

Crennel said he didn’t consider bringing in Quinn against a Ravens defense that was ‘‘pinning back its ears’’ in the second half and going after Anderson, who was sacked five times.

Curiously, Crennel, who has come under fire from Browns fans because of poor clock management and his team’s overall lack of discipline and consistency so far this season, began his news conference on Monday with a reminder that Cleveland’s 10-win season in ’08 was ancient history.

‘‘Everybody understands now that last year is officially over and where we are is where we are,’’ he said. ‘‘We have to evaluate this year’s team for who we are, how we’re playing right now and what’s happened this year and not look at what happened last year or anticipate that it’s going to be OK because it’s not OK.’’

Anderson’s production has tailed off dramatically in his past eight starts. After taking over for Charlie Frye in Week 2, Anderson threw 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his first 10 starts of 2008. However, over his past eight starts, Anderson, who missed three exhibition games this summer with a concussion, has nine TDs and 13 interceptions.

Anderson hasn’t had his full complement of wide receivers either. Joe Jurevicius is sidelined with a knee injury and Donte’ Stallworth, one of the team’s big free-agent signings, hasn’t played because of a leg injury suffered during warmups before the opener. On top of that, Cleveland’s offensive line was without left guard Eric Steinbach on Sunday and right tackle Ryan Tucker hasn’t been active after undergoing surgery on his hip.

Crennel understands that it isn’t all Anderson’s fault, and there are no guarantees Quinn will be any better.

‘‘If we decided to go with him (Quinn),’’ Crennel said, ‘‘we’d just have to put it on the fact that what we’ve seen in practice and what we feel he’s able to do.

‘‘Because there’s no hard evidence that says he’d have more success.’’