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MVN: Fool’s Gold: Why Monday’s Rout of the Giants Could Hurt The Browns


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http://mvn.com/outsider/2008/10/14/fools-gold-why-mondays-35-14-rout-of-the-giants-could-hurt-the-browns/print/

Posted By Amar Panchmatia

All the little chicks with the crimson lips weren’t the only ones going “Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks” as the Browns steamrolled the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, 35-14, in front of a national television audience on “Monday Night Football.”

And just as the masses wasted no time in jumping on Cleveland’s bandwagon coming into the season, the Browns suddenly went from being an eyesore forced to be shown on national television to a juggernaut that resurrected its season.

Only Lee Corso could put it best right now: “Not so fast, my friends.”

Quarterback Derek Anderson, who had people before the game puzzled when they were told that he was the Pro Bowl quarterback from last year on the field between the two teams and not Eli Manning, looked every bit like a former sixth-round pick and Baltimore castoff during the first four games of the season. Fans were irate that 2007 first-round pick and local golden boy Brady Quinn hadn’t been handed the keys to the franchise yet, and what was once an explosive offense littered with Pro Bowlers at nearly every position was a dormant shell that resembled the Browns’ offense of the Tim Couch/Butch Davis years.

Not pretty.

Anderson changed all that on one night as he put Manning and the Giants defense to shame by going 18-for-29 for 310 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions and looked every bit like the man who shredded the Browns’ offensive record books last season on his way to Hawaii. Braylon Edwards looked like the next superstar wide receiver he was dubbed to be after 2007, and the Browns offense looked nearly as fluid as the game that put Anderson on the map in the first place: Last season’s 51-45 shootout victory over the in-state rival Bengals.

For one night (at least), Quinn went from being the savior back to being quite possibly the only backup quarterback ever with his own commercials.

It’s a great story for the Browns, but this new-found confidence and lights-out play from Anderson could end up hurting head coach Romeo Crennel’s group a lot more than it helps them in the long run.

Anderson, the 25-year old gunslinger out of Oregon State, is predictable. In his breakout year of 2007, he looked better than Tom Brady when the Browns were playing at home. On the road, he was - well, Matt Cassel. The man simply known in Cleveland as “D.A.” went 134-for-231 at home for a 58 percent completion percentage to go along with 14 touchdowns, just six interceptions, and a sparkling quarterback rating of 93.5.

Away from the Dawg Pound, Anderson was a lackluster 164-for-296, a completion percentage of 55.4 percent with 15 touchdowns, and alarming 13 interceptions, and a pedestrian quarterback rating of 73.9.

That’s not all. When he was the new kid on the block who burst on to the scene during the first eight games of the season, Anderson was 148-for-257 (57.6 percent) with 17 scores, nine picks, and a 91.7 rating. But in the final eight games, the former Oregon State Beaver was 150-for-270 for a completion percentage of 55.6 and a rating of 73.7 to go with 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

The moral of the story is that Derek Anderson is going to look unworldly on some nights. But just as jaw-dropping as he has the capability of looking every now and then, he can be just as awful - and for a fickle fan base with a highly-invested quarterback sitting on the bench, it just isn’t a good combination.

For one night, fans and pundits will believe that Derek Anderson is back, and the Browns have successfully scoured the “lost and found” section to get their Pro Bowl quarterback back. But just two weeks ago, this was the same guy who was having difficulty moving the ball up the field against a porous and inept Cincinnati Bengals defense by throwing for just 138 yards on 24 passing attempts.

So now, the Browns sit on a cusp of an 11-game stretch that reeks like it came from the bowels of hell. Up next is a trip to 4-2 Washington, a team that looked just as good as anybody in the league and is chomping at the bit to erase the bitter taste of Sunday’s 19-17 loss to the Rams. Following the escape to D.C., Cleveland will travel to Jacksonville (3-3), host Baltimore (3-3) and Denver (4-2), go to Buffalo (4-1) for another Monday Nighter, host Houston (1-4) and Indianapolis (3-2), go to Tennessee (5-0) and Philadelphia (3-3), and host Cincinnati again before closing the season at arch rival Pittsburgh (4-1).

If the Browns want to repeat last year’s 10-6 mark, they’re going to have go to 8-3 from here on out. Given the road ahead of them, they better hope and pray that Anderson plays every game like he did on Monday night against the Giants, a performance that had even many of his own critics saying that he looked just as good as any other quarterback in the league.

It’s never wise to say that losing on national TV and going 1-4 is better than spanking the defending champs en route to 2-3, but now the Browns may have no choice but to go with Anderson and his erratic track record while keeping Quinn parked firmly on the bench.

The good thing is that what seemed like an impending quarterback controversy that could officially put the wraps on a woeful season and return the Browns to laughingstock status is probably gone - for now.

But if you are the Cleveland Browns, you better watch what you wish for. If Cleveland wants to continue to rock, then Anderson is going to have to put up a final 11-game stretch that puts all of last season combined to shame.

Unless you have the kind of money that the Browns lavished upon Anderson in the offseason (a three-year deal worth $24 million, including $13 million in guaranteed money), don’t bet on it.

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I was impressed with Anderson last night and I thought he was one of the keys to their victory.

Let's hope this article holds true and Anderson has an off day against us at our house.

Actually lets hope the Skins don't have an off day instead like the one against the Rams instead. ;)

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Good info. Thanks for the post.

I don't see the 'Skins having an off day. With good teams, off days are usually followed by wins. And I think we do have a good team.

I really expect us to bounce back with an incredible game the way the Saints and the Colts (even though the Colts managed to pull out their ugly game against the Texans) did.

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Hopefully this will get our players head in the game for next week....

If we had won this past week, maybe they would have layed an egg agains the Browns?

Anyway you cut it, this is a team that is still trying to find their identity, and cannot start thinking that they are better than they are. Maybe the loss against the Rams will carry them for the next 2-3 weeks at least....

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Its a win - win for us.

The Browns knocked off the rival Giants. Now the Browns are "On The Map" and the Redskins absolutely will not look past them this week. The Browns win last night had to of have perked the Skins up a bit in preperation for this Sunday.

I think we will see the Skins "A" game this week coming up. Unlike the Rams game and probably unlike the Lions game in 2 weeks.

THANK YOU CLEVELAND for beating the Giants and getting the Skins attention.

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Good info. Thanks for the post.

I don't see the 'Skins having an off day. With good teams, off days are usually followed by wins. And I think we do have a good team.

Well put, Mark. The loss to the Rams was a wake-up call that the Skins cannot get caught feeling full of themselves. Each and every week must be treated as if it is going to be a battle, regardless of the records.

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Personally i want them to bring their "A" game, and we win, I want our team to step up and be an elite team, win the one's we should and fight for the rest..... the Browns won't be an easy win but i would like to see the team bounce back from the rams game with a definite purpose and show that we can win consistently. i hope the Rams game was a fluke, a hiccup this year, but the Browns game will give us a better indication of how the rest of the year will go..... here's to hoping......

Hail!!

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