Taylor's Pregame 12-Pack

Revolutionary! Incendiary! A giant step forward for our great nation! Yes, it's John Taylor's pre-game 12-pack, popped open prior to lunchtime on a Thursday! Cool, refreshing, and so silky smooth...

Thoughts, notes, questions, suggestions and random snottiness as the Cleveland Browns begin the Quinn era versus the Denver Broncos.

  • What an historic week it's been. Many never saw this change coming, at least not in their lifetime. Grown men wept openly. Strangers hugged strangers. Blacks and whites, young and old, men and women, together, rose up and made their voices heard by those in power. A clear and resounding message was sent and received. Oh, and that whole "first African-American president" thing was pretty big, too.

  • Needless to say, the biggest storyline heading into tonight's primetime matchup with the Broncos is Brady Quinn making his first regular-season NFL start. The fans clamored and chanted for it; some in the media – myself included – beat an almost daily drum for it; some in and around the organization had been subtly – or not so subtly, in some cases – pushing for a change for over a month. Well, everyone that wanted it, got it. This should be an interesting ride, to say the least.

  • Obviously, anyone with any type of heart feels at least a twinge of sadness anytime a person loses their job, especially in such a public manner. However, the NFL is a bottom-line business, and the bottom line was that DA – though not completely his fault – was not getting the job done. And if Quinn doesn't get the job done after (x) amount of games, he'll be gone as well. NFL teams can't afford to have or cling to sacred cows anymore, especially at the most critical position on a football team. Get it done or you'll get DA'd, Brady.

  • Look, is the move really that surprising? Think about it. This isn't like Bill Belichick benching Tom Brady in favor of Matt Cassell. Or Spergeon Wynn. The Browns benched – statistically – one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league. Anderson's QB rating, while not the be-all, end-all gauge, is 31st in the league; Dan Orlovsky, J.T. O'Sullivan and JaMarcus Russell are ahead of him in the ratings, while Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tyler Thigpen are nipping at his statistical heels. Not exactly the Murderer's Row Carl Hubbell faced and fanned many, many, many years ago, eh? Why there is so much shock and anger and angst about this three-weeks-too-late decision is beyond me.

  • The day after the decision to move on from Anderson to Quinn was announced, this is what head coach Romeo Crennel had to say about his new QB: "Knock wood, I hope the guy doesn't fall on his face. If he falls on his face, you've got to do something because I can't go play quarterback." Move over, Knute Rockne… there's a new sheriff patrolling these sidelines! The head coach is showing all the petulance of a child who's about to take his ball and run home. It's embarrassing, really. For the coach, for the organization as a whole, for the fans, the embarrassment runs the gamut and spares no one.

  • Perhaps the most hysterical part of this whole QB switch has been watching certain members of the media covering the Browns – and you know who you are – take it as a personal affront that Anderson was yanked. Downright righteous indignation seems to be the vibe coming out of some. If it weren't so creepy, it might be kinda cute; cute in a pathetic, "awww, you poor thing" kinda way, but cute nonetheless. And then the whole "Romeo A. Crennel wasn't ‘nudged' into the general area of this decision." Funny, funny people, some of these "beat" writers.

  • So, what can Quinn do for the Browns on the field? Honestly, nobody knows. But one thing that's been intimated to me since the rumblings of a change began was that the offensive game plan would not be scaled back much, if it all, for the new starter. In fact, given Quinn's strengths in the intermediate passing game, the overall game plan could actually be enhanced.

  • And part of the offensive scheme that could be enhanced most is the use of the running backs out of the backfield and the tight end, in particular Kellen Winslow. The talented TE is a match-up nightmare for most teams, and especially so for a Broncos squad that will be without starting linebacker D.J. Williams.  Let's just say that Winslow shed nary a tear when he was told that Anderson had been benched in favor of Quinn.

  • One of the keys to this game, shockingly, has absolutely nothing to do with Quinn. I'm referring to the Battle of the Brandons, cornerback McDonald for the Browns and Marshall for the Broncos. While McDonald has been solid for a good chunk of the season – some insiders have even told me he's playing at or near a Pro Bowl level – he has struggled against bigger receivers. With Marshall standing 6'4" and weighing in at 230 pounds, McDonald gives away six inches and nearly 50 pounds. That could be an issue for the defense. And it's not like Marshall brings just size to the table, mind you; oh no, he brings tremendous talent along with the physical attributes. Marshall's 51 receptions are good for fourth in the entire league, and that's with two fewer games played than the leader, T.J. Houshmagesundheit (61).

  • OK, after that brief interlude, it's now back to Quinn… The Broncos' pass rush has been non-existent for most of the 2008 season, and the Browns' offensive line needs to keep it that way. While the new starting QB doesn't need all day to be successful, a clean pocket would not hurt as he makes his first regular-season start. The only problem, though, is that the Browns OL circa 2008 has not played up to the level of the '07 edition. The loss of Ryan Tucker will continue to be felt for the remainder of the season; meanwhile, the loss of Eric Steinbach – he was doubtful with a rib injury when this was written – would not be optimal, but it would be softened somewhat by the steady presence of veteran Seth McKinney. This unit needs to start playing better and more consistently – especially in the running game – if the season has any chance of being turned around. Regardless of the injuries that have plagued the unit.

  • Psssttt, Braylon Edwards. You already helped to get one QB fired; let's try not to make it a two-fer, m'kay? If you should, however, continue your uneven, bumbling ways, I'm quite certain there's plenty of room next to Anderson on the bench. And there are cameras on the sidelines, too, so you should be alright because "THAT'S WHAT YOU DO!" Stop posin' and prancin', and start catchin' the damn ball.

  • So, the Brady Quinn Era will begin in earnest. What will that era bring? I have no clue. Oh, I have an idea, an inkling, a leaning, but cannot say either way with any degree of certainty how it will play out. What I am absolutely certain about, though, is two things. One, if he fails, it will not be because he didn't work hard enough. That's comforting; I'll take my chances on a talented individual who will bust his ass daily any day of the week. And, two, his rise to starter has renewed the hope of a fan base in desperate need of something, anything to cling to. For now, at least, there's optimism and hope, two things that have been in short supply during this lost 2008 season.

LAST CALL: Browns 27, Broncos 24 – Quinn was undefeated as a regular-season starter in the NFL entering the game, and remains that way with a clooose win over a depleted and not-very-good football team. Or he doesn't; haven't a clue as to how this will play out.

The OBR Top Stories