Quinn back in as Browns’ starting quarterback
BEREA — Brady Quinn and the Cleveland Browns are right back where they started.
Benched by coach Eric Mangini just 2 1/2 games and 69 pass attempts into the season, Quinn will start Monday night’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, the team he was facing on Sept. 27 when the former Notre Dame star was yanked at halftime.
Quinn’s got his second chance. Now he must make the most of it.
“I’m excited to play,” he said. “I’m excited to be part of Monday night.”
Quinn never worried about getting another opportunity. He was confident it would come. Patience is the one thing he has mastered during his short pro career.
“That’s kind of how I’ve learned to live life, at least in the NFL,” he said.
Mangini’s decision to switch back from Derek Anderson to Quinn wasn’t met with overwhelming support in Cleveland’s locker room. Several Browns players interviewed on Wednesday said they were unaware of Quinn’s return to the top of the depth chart.
With his team at 1-7 and showing little progress amid growing speculation about his future, Mangini may as well give Quinn another look to see if he can get things going. Quinn can’t do any worse than Anderson, who was a disaster in five starts.
Anderson posted the NFL’s lowest passer rating (36.2) and was unable to crank up Cleveland’s offense, which to this point has been outscored by the New Orleans defense. Mangini said it wasn’t all Anderson’s fault, but there was no way the Browns could continue in reverse.
“In fairness to Derek, there were a lot of things that played a part in this,” Mangini said. “Were there throws that he missed? There were some of those and reads that could have been better. But I really like Derek. And I really like the way he handled himself.
“I don’t think by any means this is some sort of final statement on who he is. I think it is an opportunity to continue to grow and I’m sure he will.”
Anderson politely declined an interview request before practice.
Quinn was hoping that his 10 quarters as a starter would not define his 2009 season. Since being drafted by Cleveland in the first round two years ago, Quinn has had to sit and wait for his chance to take over the Browns, the team he has loved since he was a boy.
But after beating out Anderson in training camp, Quinn’s first season as a starter was abruptly interrupted in Week 3. He was given the hook by Mangini once, so is he worried about it happening again?
“No,” he said. “I mean, why should I be concerned? I’ve been through it before and I understand the adversity that comes with that. It’s not something I’m scared of.”
He’s not saying so, but Quinn may be a little nervous about the Ravens (4-4), who are coming off a 17-7 loss to Cincinnati and have dropped four of five after a 3-0 start. Baltimore can’t afford to lose more ground in the AFC North and Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and the rest of the Ravens’ attacking defense will be out to make life impossible for Quinn.
“They’re always angry,” Quinn said with a laugh, “at least when I watch them on film. They’re a solid defense. We’re expecting the same on Monday night.”
Mangini said he’d like to stick with Quinn for the remainder of the season. Mangini has seen positive development in Quinn, who never lost confidence and worked hard in the weeks he was behind Anderson.
“I think his overall control of the offense has gotten better,” Mangini said. “I think especially over the last two to three weeks he’s been very efficient as a passer and I’ve liked the things he’s done. There are a lot of tools in this offense that are available and I’m looking forward to him using those.”
It’s not clear what “tools” Mangini was referring to on an offense ranked 30th in scoring, 31st in total yards and 32nd in passing yards. Since Quinn’s last start, the Browns traded star wide receiver Braylon Edwards, leaving rookies Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie as the club’s primary targets.
Quinn didn’t go into details about his relationship with first-year offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Despite denials, there have been rumblings that the two have not gotten along. Quinn was asked if he and Daboll had a heart-to-heart to patch up any differences.
“Can you rephrase what heart-to-heart is?” Quinn joked. “We’ve talked. The past is the past.”
Quinn’s benching may have been a costly one. If he had played in 70 percent of Cleveland’s offensive snaps, escalators in his contract would have earned him nearly $11 million this season. That’s a near mathematical impossibility now, but Quinn is more concerned about adding a win to Cleveland’s paltry total.
“The season’s only halfway over,” he said. “We’re going to do our best to try to fix things and move forward.”