I admit, I know nothing of Brady Quinn. Of the little that I do know, it's the Notre Dame version that was all stats lacking championship glory. I also know that the system has as much to do promoting average to good; good to great; great to legendary. That theory also has flaws. Does the quarterback make the system or does the system make the quarterback. Did Dick Vermeil's system make Kurt Warner? I say yes. Does Peyton Manning make Tom Moore's system? I say yes.
It's a subjective argument. Consider Brady Quinn pre and post Charlie Weis and ask yourself what made what. Was it the combination of Weis and Quinn? There's truth to chemistry too.
There's also truth in maturity and growth. His jump in numbers could very much be a case of young quarterback getting it. But I also think Quinn's case could amply within the system he's in. And yes, a quarterback is only as good as the system and talent around him; a bad system will show significant depreciations that's only amplified with the quality of talent around him.
Chris -- great author of Dawgs by Nature that makes Ohio bloggers (especially NFL) some of the best in the country in any given state -- wishes Quinn would start. But he's also pleased that the Browns will start a quarterback that can make a decision far quicker than Charlie Frye.
I really don't have a credible opinion about the Browns quarterbacks situation. That's Chris' deal. I question Crennel's indecision -- only from perspectives (more below). It's not that I believe Frye was great. Or even competent. But why did he start opening weekend, through the sample size of preseason and training camp, then suddenly get dealt to Seattle? If he was considered ready enough to start the season on the varsity club, why was he given so little time to prove his worth? Furthermore, why was his "test" only against a notoriously evil Steelers defense?
It makes me wonder about Crennel's convictions. Is he reacting to please an impatient fan-base? If so, then I don't blame the Browns fans. How many seasons did we get tired of questionable quarterback play between Boomer Esiason and Carson Palmer -- with the exception of Jeff Blake's Pro Bowl season? In a lot of ways, Bengals fans can relate with Browns fans in that regard. Or is Crennel just not sure what to do?
Retrospectively speaking: We got lucky. Very lucky. While the Bengals went through a big transition, there was a period of transformation that enabled the team to go from losers to non-losers (haven't had a losing season since 2002). And Marvin Lewis said early and often that Carson Palmer would sit throughout his rookie season. The Lewis prophecy was one of vision. Scary vision. You couldn't have asked for a better mentor than Jon Kitna -- both the character and the player. The Bengals went into the 2003 bye week losing three of their first four games. Calls for Palmer were intense. Marvin Lewis never relented. Palmer waited until opening weekend, against the Jets, in 2004, before he stepped under center for the first time in his career. The Bengals became the prime example as to why you keep a rookie quarterback on the bench. However, that theory only works when you have a foundation of convictions and a long-term plan.
If it weren't for Kitna, Palmer would have played. No doubt. Since I'm not in the business of predicting, I can't suspect the alternatives. Knowing what I know now, what I've seen over three full seasons, is that Palmer isn't only a great quarterback, but he's a true leader in every meaning of the word. When the team breaks down, he's there to put the pieces together.
I won't make any correlations between Brady's rookie season and Palmer's. Fortunately, for us, the Bengals transformation from losers into contenders was calculated. The best part of that calculation is that Bengals fans witnessed it throughout 2003. Think about it. Chad Johnson became what he is today. Rudi Johnson superceded Corey Dillon. The entire offensive line went from mix and match over the hill free agency pick ups to franchise staples. Levi Jones, Stacy Andrews and even Bobbie Williams have grown into quality guys. Eric Steinbach is a tremendous offensive lineman who left for greener pastures. That transformation further grew in 2004 with Palmer taking over, T.J. Houshmandzadeh impressing the hell out of even Bengals fans and more free agency guys joining the team that have contributed more than we ever thought.
The Bengals in 2003 had a plan. They calculated every move. It was orderly, calm and the convictions to follow that plan was strong. Whether or not the Browns have that is beyond me. I honestly don't know. But I have seen no evidence following the same checklists.
In a lot of ways everything -- except for 2006 which was simply a bad-luck, ball rolls the other way type of year -- fell into place through a plan orchestrated by Lewis. Considering how everything fell into place when they did, I also feel we were damn lucky it happened with the leaders we have on this team. That is if you believe in karma.