Brady Quinn, the prodigal son from Notre Dame, took his turn as Browns quarterback tonight in front of a national TV audience that, by the fourth quarter, had likely tuned into more appealing fare.
Even the most partisan of the long-suffering Browns fans, bless their ever-loving souls, had a difficult time staying awake.
Nobody who watched this 16-0 loss to the Ravens had much to cheer in a game that produced no points in the first half -- for either team. Not that any NFL fans should be shocked Quinn couldn't generate any offense, because he hadn't generated much of it when he started for the now 1-8 Browns in their first two games of the season. He continued his horrific play.
This deep into the NFL season, it borders on pointless to trot out excuses for Quinn or for the coach who entrusted the offense to him. But if blame for what happened in this loss rested with any man, that man would be coach Eric Mangini. He should know better than anybody else that Quinn can't play, that Anderson can't play and that, well, he can't coach.
In starting Quinn, Mangini locked his offense down tighter than Ohio State coach Jim Tressel does with the Buckeyes. Take no risks leads to tentative play, and Quinn was the poster boy for a quarterback who was unsure of himself.
His idea of a forward pass was a screen pass or a dink here and there. He missed open receivers, and if you throw out a couple of slants he hit, he accounted for minimal yardage in a performance as uninspiring as anything Anderson had done in the half-dozen games he started.
"Take some shots," said Jon Gruden, one of the color analysts for the ESPN broadcast.
Gruden, the former Raiders and Buccaneers coach, was asking Quinn to play quarterback as if he wants to keep the job.
Wishful thinking, of course. Quinn wants to keep this job, with this team and under this coach about as much as he would want to step into the ring against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a winner-take-all-the-millions fight. Whether Quinn would want the job here is beside the point, anyway. For everybody knows he's done not a thing to deserve it, aside from being a No. 1 pick under another regime.
No purpose is served these days in giving Quinn a Miguel Cotto-like beating. The Ravens did just that to him in harassing Quinn deep into the chilled night. Besides, he won't be a long-term answer anyway, for whoever replaces Mangini as Browns coach -- and surely owner Randy Lerner can't bring him back next season, can he? -- will want find a quarterback, someone with the ability to make plays.
Quinn isn't that somebody, and after
his performance tonight, the Browns fans who have clamored for him to
start know all they need to know about Brady Quinn: He's no better than