Sunday, August 19, 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For

Vinny's post highlights the fact that the calls for Brady Quinn to start are only going to get louder in light of his positively Bradylicious (or, as the PD put it, "Quinn-tastic!") performance against the Detroit Lions last night.

There's no denying that Frye and Anderson both put the "A" in atrocious yesterday, and there's also no denying that Quinn played very well. In fact, he performed every bit as well against Detroit's fourth string defense as he did in college against Army, Navy, Air Force and the St. Mary's powder puff team -- and my 13 year old daughter informs me that he looked positively dreamy doing it too!

But as I watched Quinn last night, I also saw that the Jacksonville Jaguars announced that they had released Tim Couch. That particular ghost of Christmas past should continue to serve as a reminder to even the most rabid Quinn supporter of the hazards of rushing a rookie franchise QB into service before he -- or more importantly, his supporting cast -- is ready.

I'll admit that the Tim Couch analogies only go so far. The 2007 Browns have a much better receiving corps than Couch had, and they may actually have a running game and a halfway decent offensive line at some point this season. Nevertheless, by trading next year's first round pick for the rights to Quinn, the Browns have bet a good portion of their future on this kid, and maximizing his potential for success should be a top priority.

The problem is that if the season plays itself out the way that I fear it might, and the Browns are staring at a potential 1-5 start, the decision about what's best for the future of the team will be made by two guys whose futures with the club may be measured in weeks, not years. That's where the comparison with Tim Couch comes in.

In 1999, Ty Detmer was brought in to mentor Tim Couch. Detmer was supposed to start off the season as the starter, with a gradual transition to Couch being made during the course of the year. Instead, the panicky coaching staff and marketing obsessed front office saw to it that Couch's period as understudy lasted a grand total of two and a half quarters. He fought hard that season, but picked up bad habits that he never managed to break, along with more than his share of dents and scratches that continued to pile up over his career.

So be careful what you wish for, Browns fans, because you may well get it. If Frye can't perform markedly better than he did last night, you'll definitely get Quinn pretty early in the season. Who knows? It might work out. After all, Bernie Kosar came in five games into his rookie season and played right up until his skills diminished. But is that the best way to protect the team's substantial investment in Quinn?

Bernie had a formidable running game to prevent defenses from teeing off on him and that helped cushion his entry into the starting role. I'm not sure what Quinn will have going for him when he gets the call, but if it comes in the most likely scenario (i.e., coming in as relief after a dismal start to the season), the answer may be not much. Those are hardly auspicious circumstances under which to turn over the reigns to a rookie QB, and unless we want the next eight years of Browns history to resemble the last eight, I think we need to keep that in mind before we join in the chants for BRA-DY! BRA-DY!


Vinny said...

You can't really cry for Couch, Argentina. After all, he got all the dough plus a Playboy centerfold, Heather Kozar.

But, like the Burning River post, I agree that whatever success Couch could have had in the NFL was pissed away by incompetent coaches and the second worst or worst front office (Matt Millen makes the point debatable.) in the National Football League.

Hornless Rhino said...

Good point about Tim's consolation prize. Here's Mrs. Couch's website, for the uninitiated.

peter said...

The key part of Vinny's comment is that "whatever success Couch could have had was pissed away." Couch sucked, and all the opportunity in the world to stand on the sidelines before he demonstrated his lack of vision, his slow reactions, and his mediocre arm would not have made him a success. If a quarterback has got it, he can cope with playing with the line the Browns now have without being destroyed. Bernie's a good example. There are loads of others.