In business competition is necessary to insure the best performance. Anywhere there is no competition like in education, the results seem to decline with time. But a QB competition for the starting spot on an NFL team nearly always ends in disaster.
Anderson rode into the stadium on a white horse to pick up the pieces of Charlie Frye that were scattered all over the field after the first half of the Steeler game to open the 07 season. We found out later that Frye had been traded away between the 3rd and 4th quarters of that game.
He ended 07 with a slightly above average QB rating but there were signs of trouble for anyone that was watching. In the last 5 games of the 07 regular season he threw 7 TDs but 8 picks. When the pressure was on to make the playoffs with a win over the Bengals, he threw 4 picks and lost the game. He got his pro bowl status only after a gaggle of higher rated QBs backed out of the post season exhibition. The league had figured him out even if the Browns leadership had not.
But compared to the dismal QB play the team had suffered through since home town hero Bernie Kosar was released, Anderson looked like the second coming of Otto Graham. He was given a new deal and the team thought it was set at QB.
What happened to Anderson was simple. He was the victim of a pair of drive bye QB competitions. He developed a stiff neck looking over his shoulder at QB Quinn who the team had traded back into the first round of the 07 draft to take. Coach Crennel told the media he had “flipped a coin” to decide who would start at QB.
In the early games of 08, Anderson’s interception problems continued. When the bye came in week 5 he had thrown 3 TDs but 6 picks. For the rest of that year he and Quinn traded injuries and starts. The season was such a disaster that HC Crennel was fired and 5 minutes later Mangini was named the new football Czar.
The beginning of the 09 season was a disaster. It was a pre-planned 4 alarm fire because no one including the new HC knew who was going to start at QB. Quinn and Anderson split snaps during training camp and starts in the preseason. In game 4 in order to keep the Vikes guessing who would win the horse race for QB, Mangini didn’t play either one. That was a mistake but not as much as just picking one and giving him the best chance to succeed by giving his choice as many reps as possible prior to the first game.
Mangini proved to be a lot more patent than his predecessor. He started his choice–Quinn–for the first 2 games before pulling the plug. Anderson went in and continued to complete a high percentage of his passes. Unfortunately for the Browns he seemed to find defenders as often as he did his team mates. After the bye in week 9, Quinn was back and Anderson was an after thought. He did come back only when Quinn was hurt to play toward the end of the season but everyone in Cleveland knew his time there was over. He is not a has been. He is a “never was.”
Anderson is not the first QB to be ruined by a QB controversy. When there is an open competition, the locker room is automatically divided between the two guys. Some back each one. That is a formula for disaster. One of my favorite players of the “new” Browns, QB Kelly Holcomb, was also ruined by a QB competition. In 02, the Browns made the playoffs but starting QB Couch was hurt. Holcomb came in and threw for 429 yards against the Steelers in Pittsburgh in the wild card game. He ended up in that game with a 107 QB rating and the season with a 92.9 QBR. That was the beginning of the Couch/Holcomb QB competition and the end of both QB’s careers.
New football Czar Holmgren said that he will not allow a QB controversy but both Quinn and newly arrived former Seahawk Seneca Wallace both believe they will be the starter. We will have to see what happens.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
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Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday afternoons at 1 Eastern. He has also published several novels on
and edits .