Quinn & Anderson: The Odd Couple

Steve King takes an extended look at the two QBs vying for the starting job, and just how vastly different the two really are.

They are as different as the day is long.

Derek Anderson is in his third straight year of either having the Cleveland Browns starting quarterback job, or being in an open competition for it, the latter of which was the case in 2007 and is the case again this season.

Brady Quinn is in his first open competition.

Anderson has played in 31 games for the Browns, starting 27 of them, the last three years. He has attempted 927 passes and thrown for 6,195 yards and 43 touchdowns with 35 interceptions.

Quinn has played in four games for the club, starting three of them, the last two seasons. He has attempted 97 passes and thrown for 563 yards and two TDs with two interceptions.

Anderson played far out of the Midwest spotlight, at Oregon State, and entered the league as a second-day draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens. When the Ravens tried to move him to the practice squad and was instead signed by the Browns, his arrival in Cleveland caused nary a stir. Not one media member approached him for an interview on his first day in the locker room. For that matter, no one even knew who he was.

Quinn was a Midwest hero, playing first for Dublin Coffman High School in the Columbus, Ohio suburbs and then at Notre Dame. As former Browns head coach Sam Rutigliano has quipped, "The only guy under more scrutiny than the quarterback at Notre Dame is the pope." The Browns made a draft day trade with the Dallas Cowboys in 2007 and used the No. 22 overall pick to take Quinn, causing a cascading echo of shrieks from Browns employees on the second floor of team headquarters who were watching the draft on TV.

Anderson is lanky-looking at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds. A laid-back kind of guy, Browns Pro Football of Fame running back Jim Brown, now serving his old team as an executive advisor, once called him good-naturedly "a hippie."

Quinn is 6-3 and a muscular-looking 235. That, and the fact he is handsome and is able to command attention as soon as he walks into any room, has made him the favorite of every female fan whose heart he has made swoon. He is also the favorite of male fans, who remember the exploits of another Ohio-born and bred quarterback who rooted for the Browns and then played for them – Bernie Kosar.

Yes, you could go on and on and on about the differences between Quinn and Anderson. In a lot of ways, really, they couldn't be more different, it seems.

So it only makes sense, then, that they had different answers – much different in some ways, just slightly so in others -- to the same question following Thursday's OTA practice.

Browns head coach Eric Mangini had said before practice that huddle presence and the ability to run the offense would be the key criteria used in determining a starter. So what does "huddle presence" mean to the two quarterbacks?

Anderson: "You have confidence, and that breeds confidence in the other guys. You know what's going on, and you make sure the other guys know what's going on as well, and that they know that you know what's going."

OK, got it.

Quinn: "If you don't have control of the huddle, you don't have control of the other guys in it and you will have breakdowns."

Straight to the point.

Which answer sounds more impressive – and more compelling? You be the judge.

You'll have plenty of time to think about it. This competition is expected to rage on for the next three months, lasting until well into the preseason, before a winner is announced. Considering that, Anderson said it's a waste of time to put so much scrutiny on what's happening at this point.

"I think you guys (the media) are over-analyzing the whole thing," he said. "I think you're beating a dead horse. It's only June."

He's got a point.

"The Cavs have lost and the Indians aren't doing well, so you guys are drilling our butts, right?," Anderson said, mostly joking but with a tinge of seriousness thrown in.

Anderson, Quinn and their receivers have struggled at times as they learn this new offense. Quinn called it "a work in progress" but, like Anderson, he's trying to stay positive.

"This offense is not drastically different from our offense of last year, but it is a new offense," Quinn said. "We're still installing things, and we're slowly making progress. We're not making excuses when things don't go well, but at the same time, I don't see anything negative to anything we're doing right now."

Neither player is overly thrilled they're in a competition for the job.

"You've got to be able to find a quarterback one way or another," Quinn said with little enthusiasm in his voice."

Added Anderson, "It would be nice to stay there and get into a groove instead of having to share the plays, but you have to make the most of it. This is not always the best way to do it if you're the quarterback, but it is a good way for the coach and the team.

"I'm still getting some plays to run. You just have to run them and play football."

Quinn said he's "very confident I have the ability to win the job and play." He went on to say that huddle presence is something a quarterback is born with, "along with the rapport you have with your offensive coordinator."

On and on the talk went. And, just as Anderson said, it's only June. What will it be like when training camp begins in late July or early August? Or in the dog days of August with two-a-days? Or halfway through the preseason?

The answer to all those questions is that, considering Cleveland is such a football town and a town that has always,always loved its quarterback competitions going all the way back to the days of Otto Graham and George Ratterman, the talk will get ratcheted up 10-fold, at least, as the days go on.

"I don't get into all the, ‘What if this happens?,' or, ‘What if that happens?' " Anderson said. "I'm going to try to play my best, and Brady is going to try to play his best. The coach will eventually pick one of us and we'll all move on. It's as simple as that."

Considering how different both players are, you have to wonder if Quinn is thinking the same thing.


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