NFL Betting: Messy Situation for Browns at QB
by Trevor Whenham - 12/04/2008
Even the coldest person on the planet, or the biggest fan of the Steelers of the Bengals, has to have some compassion for the messy situation the Cleveland Browns find themselves in. They have had a terrible season for 100 different reasons, all coming back to unrealistic expectations and incompetent coaching. The latest quarterback struggles go far beyond that, though, and far beyond what any team deserves. In consecutive weeks they have lost both the quarterback of the future, and the former quarterback of the future for the season. That means it is going to be a long last month of the season in Cleveland - longer even than it was already going to be.
Of course, it would be easier to be sympathetic towards Cleveland's fans if some of them weren't such irredeemable scumbags. When Derek Anderson went down with a damaged MCL in his home stadium, pockets of the crowd were reportedly cheering. Classy.
For sports bettors, looking at what this means to the near future of the team is far more important than being sympathetic. This situation leaves the Browns with three possible options at quarterback, but none of them are particularly appealing. Here's a look:
Ken Dorsey - The former Miami star and two-time Heisman finalist has been with the team for three seasons since being acquired from the 49ers in a trade for Trent Dilfer. Though he has 10 career starts, none have been with Cleveland. Actually, he only has four attempts, no completions and an interception in a brown jersey. Despite the years of inactivity, the inevitable rust, the dismal 2-8 career record, and the lack of any evidence that he has the makings of an NFL QB, Dorsey is now on top of the depth chart, and very likely to stay there all year unless he is injured. Dorsey brings two major advantages over the other two possibilities - he has been taking snaps at QB with the team in practice, and three years toting a clipboard should have him familiar with the offense.
Dorsey's job isn't going to be made any easy by the injuries to tight ends Kellen Winslow and Darnell Dinkins. Winslow is out with a high ankle sprain, and Dinkins is trying to return to action with the same injury. That means that Dorsey could be without his top two tight ends, and tight ends are a perfect safety valve for an inexperienced QB. Even without those injuries, though, Dorsey faces an uphill battle - a team full of frustrated and dispirited players who can't have any faith in him. It could be ugly.
Joshua Cribbs - You're not reading this wrong, this is the same Joshua Cribbs who is a wide receiver and return specialist in Cleveland. He was a collegiate QB at Kent State, though, and he will likely act as backup for at least one game because he knows the offense. If Cribbs could channel some of what he showed in college he could really do something. He is one of only four players - along with Vince Young, Pat White and Beau Morgan - to rush and pass for 1,000 yards in at least two seasons. Cribbs did it three times. He is also the only player in NCAA history to ever lead his team in both passing and rushing for four straight years. Of course, none of that means anything. He was undrafted out of college despite playing against Charlie Frye and Ben Roethlisberger in the MAC. His game doesn't translate to a pro game at all, and he hasn't been practicing at all at QB. If he were forced to play the team would essentially be direct snapping to a running back on every snap. That would be very bad news against Tennessee.
Bruce Gradkowski - The good news is that the Browns did the smart thing and signed a veteran QB. The bad news is that it was only Gradkowski, another guy who Cribbs played against in the MAC when he was at Toledo. Gradkowski was drafted by Tampa Bay, and he became the starter as a rookie after Chris Simms ruptured his spleen in 2006. He had some decent starts, and one somewhat impressive record - the most passes in NFL history before throwing his second interception, with 200. He was only 3-8 as a starter, though. More tellingly, he was the odd man out in Tampa Bay this offseason when the Bucs had a huge QB surplus to deal with, and he couldn't make the Rams in training camp despite their offensive woes. Gradkowski is a body and depth, and he has some experience, but he isn't a particularly inspiring choice. That's especially true when you consider that he doesn't know the playbook, and isn't going to be in game shape.
No matter what happens at QB, there is one thing we know for sure - we are not going to see the full Cleveland playbook in action. None of the options are ready to employ that, so the result will be a simplified version that will be easier for opposing defenses to deal with. The offense is also going to be prone to mistakes. The good news is that the Browns are already very used to dealing with that. Perhaps the best statement about the problems this team has is that by far the best outcome is if Ken Dorsey can stay healthy and on the field all season. Ouch.