Mangini hits panic button as he names Anderson new QB

Published 3:25 am Thursday, October 1, 2009

BEREA — Two years ago, the Cleveland Browns turned their woeful offense over to Derek Anderson and won 10 games.

Eric Mangini can only hope it happens again.

With his first season in Cleveland already unraveling, Mangini benched Brady Quinn in favor of Anderson, who rode a similar opportunity in 2007 to an appearance in the Pro Bowl. The Browns (0-3) have scored just one touchdown and 29 points in Quinn’s three starts, and Mangini has seen enough to believe Anderson deserves a chance to show what he can do.

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Mangini benched Quinn at halftime of Sunday’s embarrassing 34-3 loss in Baltimore. He brought in Anderson, who was able to move the ball with more consistency.

‘‘What I’m looking for is for us to improve offensively,’’ Mangini said. ‘‘I’m not by any stretch saying it’s been all Brady. That’s not the case at all. I just think Derek did some things that were positive, and we need to improve in that area and I think he can help us improve in that area, and that’s really what the decision is based on.’’

Anderson lost a summer-long competition to Quinn, the former first-round draft pick from Notre Dame who some Browns fans have been begging to see get a chance since he was drafted. But Quinn has yet to produce big plays or points and Mangini couldn’t wait any longer.

Quinn couldn’t have anticipated losing his job after just 10 quarters. He was asked if he had ever been demoted at any level.

‘‘No,’’ he said. ‘‘Never. It’s tough to deal with, but you have to remain confident in your abilities. We didn’t play well as a team and we didn’t win those games as a team. That’s how you have to look at it, how you have to react to it. I kind of have to change roles a little bit and be the best team player I can right now.’’

Quinn may have lost his job, but he’s holding onto his confidence, however shaken it may be. He said he didn’t try to make a case to stay ahead of Anderson on the depth chart.

‘‘Our head coach is the one who makes decisions,’’ he said. ‘‘This isn’t a courtroom, we’re not presenting cases. My opinion doesn’t matter in that case. The biggest thing is we’ve got to do better things across the board for us to win.’’

This is all new to Quinn, but Anderson has been through it before.

He lost a training camp competition with Charlie Frye in 2007, but after the Browns were trounced 34-7 in the season opener, Frye was traded to Seattle and Anderson promptly led Cleveland to a 10-6 mark and barely missed the playoffs.

In his first game, Anderson threw five touchdown passes in a 51-45 win over Cincinnati.

The Browns host the improved Bengals (2-1) this week, a fact that made Anderson smile when he was reminded about what happened the last time he was promoted.

‘‘It’s kind of weird how it happened like that,’’ Anderson said. ‘‘I’m going to go in and I expect myself to play well and lead these guys and do what I can. I don’t think what we’ve done can be fixed overnight, but over time we can. If we continue to do good things, it will all work out.’’

Anderson’s return as starter could help wide receiver Braylon Edwards most. Edwards caught a club record 16 TD passes in 2007 from Anderson, whose high-velocity arm can stretch a defense.

Edwards outwardly downplayed the QB switch, but there’s no hiding his chemistry with Anderson.

‘‘You know D.A., he’s a guy who likes to throw the deep ball, likes to get the ball out,’’ Edwards said. ‘‘I like to run deep routes, so it’s natural he’d look for me in those situations.’’

Anderson came in last week with the Browns already trailing 20-0. He forced a few balls trying to get Cleveland’s offense moving and threw three interceptions. Anderson, who has been wildly inconsistent in the past, was asked if he felt he had nothing to lose.

‘‘We were down 30,’’ he said with a laugh. ‘‘Yeah, I threw some balls in places I had no business throwing. If it’s a 7-3 game I’m not doing it. I was just trying to bring some energy and try to be positive with everybody. We talked about it and I made some bad decisions. I thought overall it was pretty good.’’

Mangini’s move with his QBs could backfire on the Browns or it could get them turned around.

Edwards is sure of one thing.

‘‘To be honest, we can’t do any worse,’’ he said. ‘‘It sounds maybe bad to say, but I don’t think we can play any worse than we did. I don’t think we can go out there and lose another 34-3 game. I just don’t see it happening.’’