Rich's Rant: Quinn is the Man Right Now

Passan didn't see much to like during the first fake game of the season, but he did see enough of one situation to call for Mangini to end the charade and name a starter post haste...

You've got to hand it to Eric Mangini, master psychologist.

First exhibition of the season and he's already playing mind games with the opposition. In this case, the Green Bay Packers.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy undoubtedly was extremely impressed with how easily his men manhandled the Browns in their 17-0 victory (should have been 24-0) over the Browns at home Saturday night.

He was probably so flushed with victory, he probably forgot these two teams will meet again in week seven during the regular season. And this one will be at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The clever Mangini, lulling his coaching counterpart into a false sense of security. A stroke of genius.

What the Packers saw Saturday night was a sensational imitation of the 2008 Browns. A lot of faces were different. And the coaching staff was brand new. Everything else remained the same.

Let's break it down. The litany is almost staggering.

Confusion still reigns among the quarterbacks as to who will start this season. Anyone got a coin? (More on that later.)

Long pass for a touchdown on a blown coverage. Check.

Braylon Edwards drops a touchdown pass from Brady Quinn. Check.

The defense can't stop the run. Check.

No pass rush. Check.

Third-down problems on defense. Check.

Poor tackling. Check.

No running game. Check.

Dumb penalties. Check. (Shame on you Hank Fraley and Corey Ivy. You should know better).

Shades of Romeo Crennel.

OK, so maybe this wasn't Mangini's intention.

The new coach preaches poise and focus and stresses the importance of playing smart. The Browns, for the most part, failed at all three against the Packers.

"We didn't play the way we've been practicing," said quarterback Derek Anderson, pleading guilty.

That's because you've been practicing against your teammates. And no matter how you look against those teammates, that cannot be used as a barometer as to how you play against someone other than your teammates.

Sure, it's the first meaningless game of a meaningless four-game exhibition season. But the club added several more questions to an already crowded list of questions for Mangini to answer correctly before Sept. 13.

The most important, of course, is settling on a quarterback. And the coach is going about it all wrong. He needs to determine pronto who that quarterback will be and get him ready for the regular season.

That quarterback should be Quinn and denying him the necessary reps because the position is still purportedly up for grabs is counterproductive.

Rotating Quinn and Anderson is an exercise in futility. It accomplishes nothing other than perplexing both quarterbacks.

Quinn is the man right now and, as such, needs to sharpen his game. He can't do it by watching Anderson from the sidelines. He must see significant action in the last three games in order to develop timing with his receivers and hone his overall skills. In his two series against the Packers, he was by far the better quarterback.

If Quinn is not ready to step in and take over this team on offense by now, he never will be. Anderson had his shot last season and blew it. Now, it's Quinn's turn to prove he deserves to be the club's starting quarterback.

After spending the better part of the last two seasons observing and learning, his future with the club is now. He deserves the chance to succeed or fail. And if he fails, at least that will answer several probing questions.

Mangini and his coaching staff need to give Quinn every opportunity this season. If growing pains are part of the process, the coach has to ride them out. A quarterback carousel would not be beneficial to what Mangini hopes to eventually achieve in Cleveland.

It's not as though Quinn is a veteran who doesn't need that much playing time in exhibitions in order to get ready. His learning curve still has an upward trajectory. He needs the work.

Let's face it. The Browns aren't expected to win many games this season and Mangini's job does not hang in the balance with the team's performance.

Should this exhibition-season charade continue, Quinn will not get nearly enough reps to be adequately prepared to face the Minnesota Vikings in the season opener Sept. 13 at Cleveland Browns Stadium

Timing and rhythm are vital to the success of a quarterback and cannot be gained by sitting on the bench while a coach vacillates on making a command decision. If that means bruising an ego, so be it.

If he doesn't man up and make a firm decision now, not after exhibition game No. 4, this one will come back and bite Mangini in the hind flanks.

Otherwise, one gets the impression the players' performance against the Packers has more than given the coach something about which to be pissed.

Bright spots? Sure, there were a few.

On offense, tight end Aaron Walker knows how to get open and has soft hands. Wide receiver Mike Furrey showed what a solid journeyman can do when given the chance.

Defensively, three rookies stood out. Linebacker Marcus Benard was extremely active in the run game and showed some nice pass-rushing moves, and inside linebacker David Veikune and cornerback Coye Francies had opportunistic interceptions off deflections.

Looks as though it's going to be a long week, a very long week, of practice for the boys this week.


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