CLEVELAND -- Situations.
You hear the Cleveland Browns talk a lot about situations. About two-minute drill situations and goal-line situations and kicking situations. You have to give new head coach Eric Mangini this: His message of situational football is cemented.
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"You're not out there just running plays," Mangini said. "These plays have to be put into context. You have to play complementing football."
Indeed, after Cleveland's Brown and White Scrimmage inside Cleveland Browns Stadium before a few thousand fans, one of the first things Mangini said was how much he liked "some of the situations we had." Some they had practiced. Some they had not. What a bounty to teach, to coach from next week, he said.
No one among the Browns placed their biggest "situation" under a spotlight. That would be the quarterback situation.
Well, here, even that is a noble situation.
"There is no such thing as 'the little things,'" offensive tackle George Foster said. "It's all about doing things the right way all the time. Whoever the quarterback is, our job is to keep him clean. We plan on doing that."
They don't even say Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson, the two quarterbacks sizing up their situation. One is going to become the starter, the other the backup and somebody is going to feel, naturally, left behind. One has to be the better choice for starter in the Browns' 2009 situation, right? Which one?
"We are not like the media," tight end Martin Rucker said. "Those two guys are competing like everyone else. Today, it was in heat. It was 90 degrees out there."
Let's go to linebacker D'Qwell Jackson to bring this situation home.
A second opinion
He said: "DA, Brady (here we go), those are two of the hardest-working guys on this team. Regardless of who wins, I am going to do everything I can to support and help them not fail. Not only the offense but the defense and the special teams have to rally around the choice. Whoever gets the nod we are going to embrace. We are all about change and production this year. What we have done in the past has not worked. Point blank."
Anderson was 12 of 21 for 111 yards with an interception and a rushing touchdown in the scrimmage. Quinn was 11 of 19 for 121 yards with a 51-yard TD toss and 1 interception.
Anderson's team won 17-14. Quinn's team drove for a tying field goal in the final seconds and the kick bounced off the left upright.
"We are making sure their reps are fair, their chances are similar," Mangini said. "We will make a simple decision that is based on who gives us the best chance to win."
I think that will be Quinn.
I think it should be the choice.
He has prepared himself differently this season, mentally and physically. His conditioning has been strong. His mobility is exceptional. He brings a level of excitement that is evident in the players around him.
When plays break down, he can improvise.
When sticky situations arrive, he is a strong communicator.
These Browns do not have the weaponry that the elite AFC teams possess. Something has to offset that. I think Quinn's "IT" factor at quarterback helps give them an answer.
Mangini counts on this:
"The most important concepts we do have are we work and we play smart football. These are things you do every day and you build on them and before you know it you have a winning attitude and atmosphere."
He believes in versatility.
It looks clear.