Sam's Talking Quarterbacks

The boss of the Kardiac Kids has definite opinions on the Browns' QB battle, and he's not afraid to share each and every one of them with the readers of The OBR...

Will the Browns have enough of the right information to make an educated decision on their open quarterback competition between Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn?

Former Browns head coach Sam Rutigliano has serious doubts that they will.

"In any situation, no matter what it is, coaches like to gather all the facts, analyze them and make a decision based on that, but I'm not sure they can do it in this situation," said the boss of the Kardiac Kids, who now analyzes his old team for two Cleveland TV stations.

"First of all, forget about all these training camp practices and even the intrasquad scrimmage they had last Sunday, as being things you can use to help make the decision. It's touch football. There's no tackling. You have to wait until the bullets start flying – the preseason games, when guys are rushing the quarterback and trying to take his head off – before you can start compiling the information you need.

"But not even all of that is useable. The only thing you can use in that is when one of the quarterbacks is working with the No. 1 offense against the opponent's No. 1 defense. And with the No. 1s on both sides playing only in the first quarter, you're not going to have many plays to go on. Also, when the second quarterback goes in, he will be with the No. 2 offense against the No. 2 defense. You can't use any of that. A lot of those guys won't be around in a couple of weeks."

Rutigliano went on, "In the second game, the No. 1s will play a half, and then in the third game, they'll play three quarters. The fourth game is useless because the No. 1s will play only a series or two before getting out of there to avoid injury.

"So you have only six quarters total over three games to make your decision, but how many plays during that time are Anderson and Quinn going to get with the No. 1 against the No. 1s? It won't be many, certainly not as many as you would like. There just aren't that many plays to go around.

"That means you're going to make this big decision – the biggest you'll make all season since it involves the quarterback – and you've got only this finite number of plays to look at. It will make it very tough. You'd like many more plays than that."

Rutigliano said the Browns need to name a starting quarterback as soon as possible, well before the preseason gets too far along, so the team can adjust and the QB and the receivers can begin getting their timing down.

"You want your starting quarterback throwing day after day after day to your starting receivers," he said. "They all need to have a tight relationship, and it can't start soon enough.

"But of course, that can't happen – at least the way it needs to happen with a lot of reps every day – until you name a starter."

Rutigliano thinks Quinn should be the starter. He thought he should have been named already. He also thought Quinn should have been the starter last year and even in 2007, when he was a rookie.

"You don't trade up to draft a guy in the first round and then put him on the bench," Rutigliano said. "You get him in there and play him. Why wait?"

He thinks Quinn's leadership abilities -- his ability to command the team in the huddle -- and the guile and moxie he developed from having started all four years in the pressure cooker at Notre Dame, have served to prepare him well to be an NFL quarterback.

"If you can handle things at Notre Dame, then you can handle them anywhere, even in the pros," Rutigliano said.

The former coach says Quinn, especially with that leadership, reminds him of Brian Sipe, the quarterback Rutigliano had in 1980 when he won the NFL MVP award and led the Browns to an 11-5 record and the AFC Central title.

But Rutigliano isn't picking the quarterback this time. That will be handled by Mangini, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and the rest of the members of the offensive coaching staff. They're convinced they're going about this QB derby the right way and will make the correct decision at the proper time.

Whatever happens, it will add some real spice to the rest of training camp and the preseason games. Looking for a starting quarterback – especially in Cleveland, where quarterback controversies have always been king – will do that.

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