The Browns are off to a 7-4 start and quite frankly, I don’t know anyone that saw this coming, especially after watching the first 8 years of the new Browns, much less the opening game fiasco versus Pittsburgh, with Charlie Frye at QB.
Out of almost nowhere, Derek Anderson has emerged as maybe the NFL’s biggest surprise this season. With DA’s meteoric rise up the NFL food chain, the question has to be asked, is this guy legit or simply another One Hit Wonder like Kelly Holcomb?
You may recall that Holcomb showed flashes of brilliance, including a playoff performance versus the Steelers in 2002 where he lit up the Pittsburgh defense in yet another heart breaking Browns playoff loss. More often than not, however, KH was throwing into double coverage, having happy feet in the pocket, and looking overall like the journeyman backup that he has since become.
Skeptics will argue that DA is nothing more than KH with a bigger arm. They will argue that his biggest offensive outputs have been versus bad teams with lousy defenses. DA is also criticized for not being a heady player, inaccurate on short routes, and too often forces balls into tight windows where they don’t belong. Furthermore, his critics will point to his college career at Oregon State, where he was intercepted far too often, and lost many big games. Ultimately, despite being a 6’6 QB with a huge arm from the offensive PAC 10, DA was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the 6th Round and relegated to the practice squad.
I, however, think the Browns may be on to something with the 24 year old from Scappoose, Oregon. With the immense help from a rising talent in Offensive Coordinator, Rob Chudzinski, and a talented trio of receivers in Braylon Edwards, Joe Jurevicious, and Kellen Winslow, the Browns offense has become flat out dangerous. DA has been making ALL the throws since he was inserted into the lineup in week 2. He’s shown signs of maturity as he has become more accustomed to checking down to his backs and tight ends, when deeper routes are covered. And he’s even engineered 2-minute drill comebacks that have led to Browns’ victories.
It’s important to remember that Derek Anderson was a top high school prospect coming out of High School. He was the 1st individual ever selected as the 3A Player of the Year in football and basketball in the same season ... Scappoose High won the Oregon state football title his senior year ... Selected the top QB in the state and 2nd in the nation by SuperPrep Magazine at the conclusion of his senior year. SuperPrep All-American pick and rated the magazine's 10th best player in the nation ... Also earned All-American honors from PrepStar and Student Sports ... USA Today Player of the Year for Oregon.
He was recruited to OSU by then head coach, Dennis Erickson who knows a thing or two about putting college players into the NFL. He then played 2 years at OSU for former NFL head coach and offensive minded Mike Riley. A three-year starter, Anderson was the 1st QB to lead the team to 3 bowl games during the school's 112-year history ... Possesses 20 of the top 50 passing marks (281 yards or more) in OSU annals ... Only the 2nd player in Pac-10 Conference history to throw for over 4,000 yards in a season. Ultimately, It was Riley who told Phil Savage that he should check out his 6’6 quarterback, as Riley was convinced that DA could one day start in the NFL. By comparison, Kelly Holcomb was an undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State, of the Ohio Valley Conference.
So what does this all mean for the Browns and their prize rookie Quarterback, Brady Quinn? We’ll if I were Phil Savage I would do nothing except continue to trot DA out behind center every Sunday. Regardless of what happens the rest of the way for the Browns (5 games left in regular season), DA has earned the right to start next season as the Browns’ #1 QB. At some point during the 2008 season, the Browns should truly know what they have at QB. If DA continues to grow and develop, he must be kept as the long term answer at QB. At which point, I would trade Brady Quinn and find a veteran to be the backup. Until then, I would ride out 2007 and 2008 with DA as the starter and BQ the backup. Everybody knows that BQ is only one hit away from assuming the reigns. It’s a must in today’s NFL for playoff contending teams to have 2 quarterbacks.
After watching 1st Round QB draft pick, after 1st Round QB draft pick, become busts in the NFL, I am not comfortable putting all of my eggs in the BQ basket. Conversely, after watching guys like Kurt Warner, Trent Green, even David Gerrard, and of course Tom Brady, come out of nowhere to put up big numbers in the NFL, I’m willing to see if Derek Anderson can join that group too.
So, is Derek Anderson nothing more than today’s version of Kelly Holcomb? I say no. Think more like Mark Bulger.
Posted by: Ags