Commentary: QB indecision risky

The Vikings and Browns are both playing coy with quarterback decisions, which could end up hurting their own team as much as the opponent.

Quarterback controversies are about the worst a thing a head coach in the NFL can have. In most instances where an ongoing quarterback controversy exists, the potential for, oh, let's say, a schism exists. Heading into Sunday's regular-season opener, both the Vikings and Browns face a QB controversy – but ones of a very different nature.

Eric Mangini, who was last seen coaching for the Jets with Brett Favre as his quarterback, has moved on to Cleveland, where, despite having months to make the determination as to who his starter will be, has yet to name his starter between Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. The lack of a decision, or at least public proclamation, has allowed for a potential split in the locker room – those who favor Anderson and those who prefer Quinn. It isn't as though Mangini has to decide whether to start Joe Montana or Steve Young. Anderson played himself out of the starting job last year and Quinn's inability to stay healthy gave it back to him. Unlike other teams like the Jets, 49ers, Buccaneers and Lions that entered training camp with open quarterback competitions in which the starter was named, the Browns still head into the season without a definitive answer to that question. The indecision has to fall squarely on the shoulders of the head coach.

The same, too, has happened with Brad Childress and the Vikings. It's clear that Favre is the starter in Minnesota, but when it has come to making a decision as to who the No. 2 quarterback is and who will be the inactive No. 3 QB, he hasn't made that determination either. At practice Monday, Childress said he likely won't announce who will be No. 2 and who will be inactive – Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels – until the inactive lists are submitted about 90 minutes before game time.

While some may view this as the gamesmanship that has become part of the new NFL, where the term "competitive advantage" has been taken far out of context, the indecision on both fronts seems like a breeding ground for dissention in the locker room. It's natural for players to feel more comfortable with one quarterback over another and, by not taking the bull by the horns and laying down the law as to the pecking order, the coaches may have opened themselves up to criticism for their lack of action and indecisiveness.

While the Vikings' starting job has been clearly marked out from the day Favre arrived at Winter Park with "Chilly" as his chauffeur, the Browns could potentially bounce back and forth with little to no continuity as both quarterbacks look over their shoulder and realize that one bad game or a couple of bad practices could get them to flip-flop throughout the season. That is no way to run a team and, for whatever reason, both Mangini and Childress have opened themselves up to creating locker room schisms by not making up their minds and showing the kind of leadership head coaches are expected to have over a locker room. Perhaps both situations will play themselves out, but for now, it would seem the lack of conviction of the head coaches is setting them up for potential locker room divisions – something one can handle in December, but not so easily dismissed in September.

TUESDAY NOTES

  • While a court ruling may come down this week concerning the status of the court case for Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, even if the ruling is adverse to them, because it would happen during the week of preparation, both are all but guaranteed to be available to play Sunday against the Browns.

  • Center Jon Cooper, released Sunday when the Vikings signed recently released Broncos center Kory Lichtensteiger, was re-signed to the practice squad Monday. To make room for Cooper, the team released offensive tackle Drew Radovich for the second time in three days.

  • Madieu Williams was not on the field at practice Monday for the portion in which the media could witness early on. Williams was recovering from the stomach flu, according to Childress.

  • Daunte Culpepper, who was expected by many to open the season as the starting QB for the Lions, found out Monday that rookie Matthew Stafford will get the opening starting nod. New coach Jim Schwartz said Culpepper didn't lose the starting job so much as Stafford's rapport with star receiver Calvin Johnson was the determining factor.

  • Despite being in the league for some time, the Vikings have only played the Browns once since Cleveland returned to the NFL.

  • The Jaguars are expected to announce today that they have signed former Vikings safety Brian Russell.


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