The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

More thoughts on Derek Anderson

Posted by disappointmentzone on 17 September 2007

Here is a quick look at Derek Anderson’s NFL career and why Browns fans should stop waiting on Quinn and start pulling for Anderson.

Derek Anderson joined the Browns in 2006 after being drafted in the sixth round by the Ravens in 2005.

First Game

He made his debut last season in week 13 against the Kansas City Chiefs when he entered the game for an injured Charlie Frye. His first pass attempt against the Chiefs was his first pass attempt in the NFL. He finished that game with a passer rating of 95.5 and a QB Score per play of 3.67 (nearly four times the NFL average). He led the Browns to victory in a game in which they trailed by 14 points in the fourth quarter, making plays with his arm (surprising given he’d never attempted a pass before) and his legs (surprising given Romeo Crennel runs a faster 40 yard dash). It was his first game ever in the NFL.

Second Game

The next week the Browns played the Steelers — on the road — and Anderson once again played well, hampered only by a slew of dropped passes. Against one of the most complex blitz schemes in the league Anderson had a passer rating of 78.8. 2004 is the last year I had an average for in passer rating and that year it was 82.8, which was the highest average in history. The average over the last six seasons is right around 80. So Derek Anderson was average against the Steelers. His QB Score per play was 1.74, or above average for an NFL quarterback. In his first start in the NFL Anderson played considerably well.

Third Game

The following week the Browns played the Ravens in Baltimore, the team that had arguably the best defense in football last year, a team that finished the season with a 13-3 record, and a team with equally complex blitz and defensive schemes as the Steelers, in addition to a much better secondary. Anderson had a passer rating of 85.8 — above average — but his QB Score per play was a scant -.78. However, as I wrote at the time, only five times last season did an opposing quarterback post an above average QB Score against the Ravens. The average was -.26 and so Anderson’s numbers weren’t as bad as they may seem at first glance. The Ravens really did have a crippling defense.

Fourth Game

Anderson’s last game was shortened by an injury that caused him to miss the remainder of the season. In that game he played incredibly poorly. There is no way of looking at his performance to spin it as something other than terrible. He sucked, plain and simple.

So at the end of the 2006 season Anderson had played better than about half of the quarterbacks in the NFL. He did so in road games against two of the league’s top defenses and in his first 15 quarters as an NFL quarterback. Somehow it got buried under a heap of stories about how woeful the Browns were that Anderson played better than anyone would have expected from a (or all intents and purposes) rookie quarterback. He was pretty darn good and he was pretty darn good when he needed to be: in games.

Fifth and Sixth Games

Flash forward to this season. Through a little over six quarters of play Anderson has a passer rating of 101.3, with a rating above 120 in the game against the Bengals. These numbers are far above league average.

Now imagine these were the numbers Brady Quinn put up in this first four starts. Can you imagine the sort of clamoring that would be going on, the sort of histrionics about saviors and good fortune and we’re long overdue, emanating from the shores of Lake Erie? The masses would be exclaiming that the front office finally got one right in drafting Quinn and that the future of the team looked bright when cradled in the freshly manicured hands of Mr. Golden Boy himself. Not that I would blame anyone for responding this way. My point is that whatever feelings of good joy that would accompany any success from Quinn ought to accompany the success of Anderson.

The fact remains that despite his experience in the league — this is his third season — Derek Anderson is only a year and four months older than Brady Quinn. This isn’t a Kelly Holcomb situation where after years of trolling around the league as a journeyman backup the newly inserted quarterback finally plays well — 400 yards against the Steelers! — only hope is tempered because he has many years of mediocre history trailing him and only a few good years left in his arm.

No, what we are seeing with Anderson is much more similar to what Indians fans are seeing with Fausto Carmona. I’m would not go so far as to say that Anderson will play himself into the Pro Bowl in the way that Carmona has played himself into Cy Young consideration, but the notion that Anderson is somehow perennially bad or a career backup is just plain unfounded. Not only has he had demonstrable success shortly into his career, but he’s not yet old enough to be either perennially bad or a career backup. The jury is still out.

Which is ultimately the point. We do not yet know what we have in Anderson, but his brief history as an NFL quarterback certainly is promising, more so than most young quarterbacks, and there is no reason to think that Quinn will be the starter come the bye week.

The best-case scenario is that the Browns find themselves in the same situation as San Diego when the Chargers had Drews Brees and Philip Rivers.

The next best scenario is that the Browns find themselves in the same situation as Cincinnati when the Bengals had Jon Kitna and Carson Palmer.

The worst case scenario was traded to Seattle last week.

A 1-1 record is not all tulips and buttercups, but guarded optimism certainly is warranted.

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5 Responses to “More thoughts on Derek Anderson”

  1. Josh said

    Of course he won’t keep up those numbers, but I also wasn’t surprised he was more effective then Charlie. What we saw of DA last year showed he wasn’t afraid to throw the ball down the field and had the arm to do so. Charlie seemed to always check down right away which limited our offense and really kept the Browns from being able to really get a read on Braylon, Winslow, etc. What the hell was Romeo thinking starting Frye to begin with? Supposedly Savage was in DA’s camp. Confirms the notion that Savage knows what he is doing way more then Romeo.

  2. The whole training camp debacle was just that — a debacle. Anyone with two eyes and a sense of what qualifies as good football could see that DA was a better quarterback than Frye. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the coach.

  3. dan said

    I watched an interview of Cleveland’s head coach after DA throw for five TDs and not one word about DA. WOW is he setting up a QB change this year or what!!!!!! Good luck Cleveland I hope you get what you deserve. LOL

  4. What is it we deserve?

  5. OBF said

    I am a Beaver fan, and if you need more evidence that DA isn’t just a scrub backup, check out his college numbers: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/collegeplayers/anderson_derek_oregonstate.htm

    He has most of the OSU QB records, and Check out the Pac-10 records : http://www.cstv.com/auto_pdf/p_hotos/s_chools/pac10/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/Recordsfrom06MediaGuide
    his name is all over the place, most notably he has the third most total offense in Pac-10 HISTORY!

    DA is the real deal, and only the west coast and non footbal power school he went to kept him out of the first round. The skills and talent are there, some one just needs to use them.

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