Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini has a secret and he wants to let you in on it … but not until the first snap of Sunday's regular-season opener against the Minnesota Vikings.
Mangini seemed amused at a question he knew was coming in his conference call with the Twin Cities media: Who will be his starting quarterback Sunday, Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson?
"It will be one of those two guys, and they've been great throughout the process. I've been really impressed with the way that they've handled it and their competitiveness, their intensity. The way that they've helped each other and supported each other … has been outstanding," said Mangini, who has been taking the Patriots' air of secrecy and implementing it at his stops with the New York Jets and now the Browns.
"I'm not saying (the secrecy) is necessarily going to be the difference in the outcome, but when you prepare, you try to be as thorough as you possibly can. If you have two guys to get ready for and look at, that adds some more time to the preparation. You're always working as hard as you can to give the guys the best information based on the information that you have, and that's what we all try to do. The better then information, the more pointed the research can be."
Mangini said in his Cleveland press conference that he informed the quarterbacks of his decision on Tuesday evening, but he's hoping to keep that information from the public as long as possible.
Vikings coach Brad Childress said on Monday it wasn't that big of deal not knowing which quarterback would start – all indications point to Quinn – but Mangini said when the quarterbacks have different styles, it can cause extra work for the defensive staff of the opposing team. It happened to Mangini when he was a defensive coordinator and when he was a defensive backs coach.
"It's happened multiple times, and it's not a fun process and you have to look at tape on both guys, and it's not that you don't prepare for the second quarterback," he said. "You try to do that as well, but your main emphasis is the starting guy, what his mannerisms are, what his tendencies are. What his offensive procedure is."
Anderson started nine games for the Browns last year, completing 50 percent of his passes for 1,615 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. It paled in comparison to his previous season, when he completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,787 yards, 29 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in 15 starts.
Quinn played sparingly in his rookie season while Anderson was making a name for himself. But last year Quinn took over for Anderson in November and started three games before a fractured finger ended his season. Like Anderson, he completed 50 percent of his passes and had 518 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Anderson rushed only 24 times for 58 yards in his 10 games played last year, and 32 times for 70 yards in his breakout 2007 season. In his three games last year, Quinn ran five times for 21 yards.
If one quarterback is more of a scrambler, it can cause different problems.
"It's a completely different scheme, completely different approach, and when you don't know which one you're getting, it better be sound on both," Mangini said.
Ultimately, the Browns' starter could be leaked before Sunday, but Mangini said he isn't concerning himself with that possibility.
"I would assume that the players will maintain the competitive advantage that we're trying to maintain. I don't know where it goes or whether it will be leaked."
Mangini wants to keep Vikings guessing
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