The good news — if that’s even possible — for a team with two decent quarterbacks but no really great one is that, after one of them is benched during a game against one of the top defenses in the NFL, the head coach can force the next opponent to prepare for both of them by keeping the identity of the starter a secret.
And that’s what Browns coach Eric Mangini appparently will be doing. After yanking Brady Quinn from Sunday’s horrendous 34-3 loss to the Ravens, Mangini is keeping the identity of the Week Four starter under the cockeyed ballcap that makes him look even more disheveled and slovenly.
For now, though, even Mangini doesn’t seem to know who the starter will be.
Mangini said after the game that he’ll “make a decision early [this] week” regarding whether Quinn or Derek Anderson will get the nod.
Quinn didn’t sound too pleased about the benching.
“Why would I not want to be out there playing and trying to come back?” he said. “It’s frustrating to not be able to finish what I started. I knew I didn’t have a good first half, and I was hoping to make some plays in the second half.”
If Quinn ends up on the bench, the potential financial consequences could be enormous. He needs to take 45 percent of the snaps this year to unlock a $1.32 million one-time playing-time incentive. And if he hits 70 percent, he’ll trigger a $5 million salary escalator for 2010.
On Sunday, Quinn completed six of eight passes for 34 yards and one interception. Anderson connected on 11 of 19 for 92 yards, but with three interceptions.
So maybe the answer to the question of who should play against the Bengals on Sunday should be “Brett Ratliff.”
Meanwhile, it’ll be interesting to see whether Mangini again tries to keep the identity of the starter a secret through next Sunday, even after one of the three men receives the first-team reps at practice this week and after one or more of the other 50 men on the roster and/or eight on the practice squad start talking about who the starter will be.
We’ll keep an eye on T.O.’s Twitter page for the scoop.