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.