Justice Is Served

November 4, 2009 1:05 PM

Is this Anderson's last start? Let's hope so

What I'll remember most about the Browns' 30-6 nightmare Sunday in Soldiers Field will be a play in the fourth quarter: Quarterback Derek Anderson, under siege in his own end zone and trying to escape the rush, cocks his right arm and floats a pass nowhere near anybody wearing a Browns uniform.

Defensive back Charles Tillman dives for Anderson's floater, catches the ball while tumbling to the turf, scrambles to his feet and races toward the goal line. Tillman fends off tacklers along the way before rumbling into the end zone. It was another touchdown for the Bears, and another interception for Anderson.

More interesting to me, the pass was Anderson's last. Coach Eric Mangini, frustrated, pulled Anderson and replaced him with the prodigal son Brady Quinn.

I'm hoping it is the last time I'll see Anderson start for the Browns. For whatever else he might be in life - a good son, a solid citizen and a first-rate teammate -- he is a sorry excuse for an NFL quarterback.

Look, Mangini can only trot out a disaster like Anderson for so long. At some point, the coach has to say that a quarterback who ends a game with a QB rating of 10.5 isn't good enough to stand behind center.

Anderson's performances have been noteworthy for their ineptitude, but his inept play hit rock bottom against the Bears. In my mind, it's foolish to trot Anderson out there and expect a better result.

To steal a few words from retired NFL coach Denny Green, Anderson is what I thought he was: a rifle-armed quarterback who couldn't hit the Gulf of Mexico if he stood on a dock in Key West, Fla.

I'm not, of course, an NFL coach; don't play one for TV either. What I am is someone who has watched and written about enough NFL games to know ineptitude when I see it. I have witnessed plenty of it the last decade while rooting for the Browns.

They have gone through more QBs than Madonna has gone through boyfriends. From Tim Couch to Trent Dilfer to Jeff Garcia to an endless line of others whose play fell below mediocre.

Browns fans have never made peace with mediocrity, despite the fact that's all they've witnessed since the team returned to the city a decade ago. They won't make peace with it now.

Their cry to bench Anderson will be louder in this bye week than last week, and the tone-deaf Mangini will have a difficult time ignoring it.

Under ordinary circumstances, Mangini's decision would be easy. He'd let the job stay in Quinn's hands.

Quinn isn't an answer, though. He opened the season with the job, but he showed he didn't have the skills to hold on to it.

Have his skills somehow improved while tethered to the Browns bench?

How good Quinn is a separate subject, and it colludes with a bigger concern for Mangini: to use Quinn could cost the team $11 million in contract incentives.

On a team with more holes than a brick building in Baghdad, Mangini can't afford the salary-cap hit playing Quinn would cost the team. He wouldn't be much better than Anderson, anyway. Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Tom Brady might be unable to play well for this collection of talent that Mangini has at his quarterback's disposal.

Anderson isn't Manning, Brees or Brady. He never will be. Neither will Quinn, which is the damnable part of it for a Browns fans. They want better, but better will never come with Anderson at quarterback.

Nor with Brady Quinn.

After seeing another dispiriting loss, Mangini might want to sit Quinn as well and put his faith in Brett Ratliff, the team's No. 3 QB. Ratliff's the horror show in orange and brown that nobody has seen yet.

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