So, Brown fans waited for this?
For two years, they have clamored for Brady Quinn to take the reins of the team’s offense. Quinn, a first-round refugee of the Phil Savage regime, had the pedigree: an Ohioan, a Notre Dame alum with the golden boy’s persona.
Derek Anderson, Quinn’s rival for the job, was the rifle-armed gunslinger from Oregon – the outsider who never caught the fancy of Browns fans. For no matter what he did -- and Anderson did plenty during his Pro Bowl season of 2007 – he couldn’t get out from under Quinn’s shadow.
Now, he’s the backup, a quarterback whose credentials for NFL success look a lot flashier than Quinn's. He lost the starter’s job in a competition that was anything but open. How could Anderson expect to overtake a No. 1 pick?
As Anderson watched Sunday from the bench, Quinn produced a performance that reminded people of football’s past in Cleveland – oh, not the glory days of Otto Graham, Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar, those old Browns stars; but the depressing days of futility under Tim Couch, Jeff Garcia and Charlie Frye.
Quinn kicked off the Eric Mangini era the same way as the Chris Palmer, Butch Davis and Romeo Crennell eras began: with a 34-20 loss.
It would be unfair to blame quarterbacks solely for how those eras started, and it would be unfair to blame Quinn solely for how the Mangini era began.
But his play contributed to the sorry beginning; it suggested to no one he could be the next Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Peyton Manning.
Instead of confident and cool, Quinn was tentative, seemingly unsure of what he wanted to do with the offense. He made bad passes here and there, and he didn’t do a thing to stretch the Vikings defense.
What he also didn’t do was show the take-charge mentality that seems to be part of a good quarterback’s DNA. Maybe that leadership can be cultivated. It certainly isn’t something Quinn can go to Sam’s Club and buy off the shelf.
Still, it was his show – finally.
Yet to say his play against Brett Favre and the Vikings should define him is unfair. Quinn is still green as NFL quarterbacks go, and he has time to grow into the position.
Time, however, isn’t something Browns fans might afford him. If he is to thrive under the pressure cooker of quarterbacking a team whose fans demand so much, Brady Quinn will need to play less like a cast member of the “Brady Bunch” and more like a Brady named Tom.
(Photo of Brady Quinn at practice by John K's photostream)