Former Notre Dame All American quarterback Brady Quinn was named the starter for the Cleveland Browns according to several reports on Wednesday. Quinn was in a close battle with former Pro Bowler Derek Anderson for the starting gig in Cleveland this summer, but it appears he’s come out on top – even if head coach Eric Mangini isn’t talking about it.
Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini – a Bill Belichick disciple – has refused to publicly state who his starting quarterback will be when the Browns travel to Minnesota on Sunday to take on the Vikings in their season opener. Several reports, including a tweet from Terrell Owens, have indicated that Quinn has won the starting job and will be under center for the Browns on Sunday.
Entering his third season in the NFL, Quinn was facing a make or break type season in Cleveland. Most successful quarterbacks establish themselves by their third season. Had Quinn lost the starting gig to Anderson, the word bust would have started appearing along side Quinn’s name. According to Wednesday’s news though, Quinn has cleared the first hurdle towards reaching the potential that made him a first round pick three years ago.
Quinn starting against the Vikings will make for some interesting story lines. Quinn will be making just his fourth career start and will be starting his first season opener. Meanwhile, the quarterback on the other side of the field will have a few story lines of his own. Brett Favre will be starting his 17th season opener with Sunday’s being for his 3rd different team in 3 years.
Should Quinn be successful in starting for the Browns, he’d create some great PR for Notre Dame assuming Jimmy Clausen can keep playing at the pace we’ve seen in his last two outings. If Quinn were to start to emerge as one of the better young quarterbacks in the NFL, Notre Dame would have a rising star in Clausen playing on Saturdays and another playing on Sundays. Charlie Weis’s image as an offensive guru would also be greatly helped if Quinn succeeds in Cleveland this year.
The last two seasons have hurt Notre Dame’s image as a pro-style offense tailor made for preparing players for the NFL that Weis built during his first two seasons in South Bend. Having a successful quarterback on campus and another in the NFL would go a long towards restoring that image and could in turn help Notre Dame’s recruiting efforts.
Whether or not Quinn succeeds this year will largely be determined by how well the Browns offensive line can protect him. He’ll have some weapons in Braylon Edwards and Josh Cribbs to throw the ball to, but the ground game in Cleveland will be suspect with an aging Jamal Lewis handling the load. How much a weapon Edwards will be also remains to be seen. Two years ago Edwards turned in a Pro Bowl season with 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns. Last season Edwards developed a case of the dropsies though and his totals fell to 873 yards and 3 touchdowns. If he can meet somewhere in the middle, he’ll give Quinn a big target to throw the ball to.
Unfortunately for Quinn, he’ll be playing in one of the most defensive minded divisions in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers both appearing on the Browns’ schedule twice.
Notre Dame fans should all be cheering for Quinn this season as his success could make for a nice story this fall if the Irish continue to play the way they did this past weekend.