LA: If the Browns execute offensively, they should beat the Ravens in Cleveland. If not for miscues the first time these two teams played, the Browns would have been in position to beat Baltimore. For the Browns to win this important game, the QB must get the ball out quickly and accurately, show some semblance of a running game and prevent Baltimore rookie QB Joe Flacco from gaining confidence in the pocket. This rookie has shown he will make mistakes under pressure.
This Baltimore defense, while good, can be exposed. As has been the norm for the Browns this season, as the QB goes, so goes the team. Anderson must receive adequate protection and make plays when the opportunity is there. In their initial meeting earlier in the season, Anderson was late often on his reads and pass attempts, which enabled the Baltimore defense to recover and make plays on the receivers. The QB's inaccuracy and staring down of receivers in that game also provided the Ravens defense the ability to attack, sit and run through routes without recourse.
If Anderson plays poorly and the offense shows very little, I could see Crennel making a move at QB. I know he has been reluctant to remove Anderson, but the Browns cannot afford another loss -- especially another divisional loss. If this a tight game and Anderson is playing poorly, I am worried that Crennel will rely on Anderson to lead the Browns on another late game surge, as he has done at times this season.
Q: What is your opinion regarding the ever-concerning quarterback issues of this team? It appears to the common fan the organization has something against playing Brady Quinn. Is it financial or stubbornness on the behalf of the head coach and coaching staff?
LA: Head coach Romeo Crennel is responsible for who plays and when on game day. Despite some speculation that general manager Phil Savage tells Crennel who to play, this has not been corraborated in any way.
While Brady Quinn has numerous performance-driven incentives in his contract, he is not playing due to the decision of the head coach. Crennel shows a loyalty to players who have had success, especially under his watch. This loyalty can be construed as not always being in the best interest of the on-field team success by many that follow and/or cover the team.
Throughout the majority of this season, I do not think the play at the QB position could have been much worse. Anderson has played poorly and the offense has lacked the ability to execute; dropped passes, penalties, injury all have been an issue for this offensive unit. The inconsistency on the offense as a whole makes an inconsistent Anderson appear even worse than he has played. Every time Anderson appears to be on the verge of being replaced, he does just enough to retain his spot in the eyes of the head coach as he did against Cincinnati, the New York Giants and Jacksonville.
I would like to see Quinn get an opportunity if this Cleveland offense continues to struggle and execute poorly.
Q: We have heard reports that the Minnesota Vikings offered two first-round picks for Brady Quinn and the Kansas City Chiefs were believed to be interested in the quarterback as well. Is this true and if so, why wouldn't the Browns jump on the opportunity considering their obvious love for Anderson?
LA: From everything I have been told, multiple teams expressed an interest in Brady Quinn since he was selected by the Browns in the first round of the 2007 college player draft.
While two of the teams interested were the Chiefs and Vikings, the reported offerings differ from the reality of the situation, according to team and league sources.
Additionally, the Browns have no issue with Quinn backing up Derek Anderson and developing in this manner. The team realistically has committed to Anderson being the starter only for the 2008 season, as the contract he signed in the off-season dictates. Basically, as reported on numerous occasions by the Orange and Brown Report's John Taylor, Anderson's contract is a three-year deal, but the structure makes it basically a series of one-year deals.
If anything, the Browns would like to see Anderson play well, which would likely mean the team is playing well and the value of each QB would be enhanced.
Q: After the fiasco with Kellen Winslow, do you anticipate the Browns attempting to trade the star tight end? If the team goes in this direction, what could the Browns get in return and do you see a player on the roster to replace him as a threat in the offense?
LA: I do believe the issues presented due to his speaking out about the staph infection, etc., did stress the relationship; I do not, however, see it specifically as being enough to warrant a trade. Factor in the contract issue and we then have something to seriously entertain.
In any deal for Winslow - I have been told the compensation package would have to be no less than comparable to the Jeremy Shockey trade in the off-season. The New Orleans Saints traded second- and fifth-round draft picks to the New York Giants for the tight end.
The current regime likes what TE Steve Heiden provides and the selection of potential pass-catching TE Martin Rucker in the 2008 draft should not be overlooked as the front office and coaching staff are of the impression Rucker will become more than just an average pro TE, with the ability to be a legitimate threat in this Browns offense.