Consistent Colts face ever-changing Browns

Published 10:54 pm Saturday, November 29, 2008

The losses are piling up, the coach and general manager are under intense scrutiny, the future quarterback is finished for the season and the loyal fans are revolting.

These are dreary days for the Cleveland Browns.

‘‘I wish we could start over,’’ tight end Kellen Winslow said. ‘‘I play a lot of video games and I wish there was a reset button.’’

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If it were only that easy.

With five games left in a season that could go down in team annals among the most disappointing, the Browns (4-7) head into Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts (7-4) searching for something positive. Earlier this week, quarterback Brady Quinn was lost to a season-ending finger injury that could require surgery and could complicate Cleveland’s plans heading into what figures to be another offseason of upheaval.

The setback will also give deposed starter Derek Anderson a chance to redeem himself after the 2007 Pro Bowler was benched in favor of Quinn.

Last week, Quinn played against Houston despite a broken right finger tip and damaged tendon. It was just his third career start, but he became Cleveland’s sixth quarterback to face the Texans since 2002, a startling statistic that perhaps best underscores the Browns’ instability and helps explain their 54-102 record since 1999.

Browns owner Randy Lerner has grown tired of Cleveland’s perpetually spinning quarterback carousel. Earlier this week, the camera-conscious Lerner said he firmly believes a team’s success is directly tied to the man under center. He wishes his team’s personnel decision makers would just settle on a QB and let him go.

‘‘I have said just that,’’ Lerner said.

If the Browns need further evidence how well the one-quarterback theory works, all they have to do is look across the line of scrimmage Sunday.

The Colts embody it. Turn that horseshoe on their helmet sideways and it would form a ‘‘C’’ for consistency.

Since 1998, Indianapolis has had one quarterback, the standard bearer of consistency: Peyton Manning.

In the last 10 seasons with Manning leading them, the Colts have gone a league-best 109-46, made the playoffs eight times and won a Super Bowl title. Manning, too, has benefited from working with one offensive coordinator, Tom Moore, during his 11 seasons as Indy’s starter.