For nearly 15 years, the Cleveland Browns have searched for a franchise quarterback, and now they may have the luxury of having two. Both Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn are paid enough to be the Browns' starting quarterback, but only one can claim the job title. It has been 44 years since the Browns won their last championship and now either Anderson or Quinn must step forward to lead the franchise toward its ultimate goal.
For more than 40 years, the Browns were led by successful quarterbacks like Otto Graham, Frank Ryan, Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar. Since Kosar's final season with the Browns in 1993, the team's search for a consistent winner at quarterback has been unsuccessful. However, the outlook at quarterback appears hopeful heading into 2008.
At this time last year, Derek Anderson was an unknown quarterback who was selected in the sixth round of the 2005 draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Snatched off the developmental squad by Browns general manager Phil Savage, Anderson had thrown eight interceptions in five career games prior to the start of the 2007 season.
After being named the starter in Week 2 of last season, Anderson went on to throw 29 touchdowns in 15 games, one shy of tying Sipe's 27-year-old, single-season team record. Anderson helped a Browns offense that had scored only 238 points in 2006 become one of only eight teams to score more than 400 points in 2007. Now, after recently signing a three-year contract extension, Anderson is determined to hold on to his job.
"It's my show right now," Anderson said. "It was important for me to stay where I know it's good with the coaches and the weapons I have around me in this offense with Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow and now Donte' Stallworth."
While at Notre Dame, Quinn broke 36 school records in four seasons as the quarterback for the Fighting Irish. He attempted only eight passes during the final game of his rookie season, but said his focus this offseason has been to drastically improve.
Despite having a quarterback who went to the Pro Bowl in 2007 on the roster, Quinn is more confident going into his second season.
"The team, the organization, everyone has more confidence," Quinn said. "Last year I wanted to jump in right away, but I've seen the effects of waiting. Everything has slowed down, I'm seeing more, and my second year is so much better in our organized team activities."
While both quarterbacks are open to having a friendly competition, they are also aware of the fact that only one can win the job.
"Brady and I are open to a competition, and we both believe that competition will make us better." Anderson said. "Our relationship is good. We are two guys working to get better, but two guys pulling in different directions is not good."
While complimentary of Anderson, Quinn remains ambitious.
"Derek is in the No. 1 spot, but every year is a new year," Quinn said. "He did a good job of rallying the team after Week 1 last season. But in 2007, a record number of quarterbacks played in games. I feel it's best to prepare like I'm the starter. That time will come."
While Quinn's ambition is to ultimately be a starter, Anderson aims to take the Browns to the playoffs for the first time in six years.
Should Anderson struggle or fail to lead a postseason run, Quinn's presence adds intrigue.
"My goal this training camp is to win 'em all in the preseason," Quinn said. "I want to get the ball in my hands and produce. I expect to play by season's end."