My review of the Cleveland Browns' draft decisions in last Thursday's Fandemonium, as well as a harsher critique on my Browns Blawg at www.norwalkreflector.com/blogs/ generated quite the response.
If those emails and posted comments are indicative of the fan base as a whole, you guys are split when it comes to Brady Quinn and what Cleveland had to give up in order to obtain him.
I guess it comes down to this: If you are a Charlie Frye supporter, you felt the Browns were set at quarterback and needed to focus on other needs -- cornerback, defensive line, running back. If you aren't, then Quinn is viewed as a possible savior, the next Joe Montana/Tom Brady/Peyton Manning.
Really, though, none of us know Frye's potential. Even the team's front office admits the lack of pass protection and an insufficient ground game made it impossible to accurately gauge the Willard native's abilities.
Trading to draft Quinn, coupled with taking Joe Thomas with the third-overall pick, has created a great buzz around the nation. The team needed a positive shot in the arm, no doubt about it. And team owner Randy Lerner is ecstatic.
Anyone who has read my "Dawg Days" column over the years knows I'm a glass-half-full type of guy when it comes to Cleveland sports teams. In fact, WLKR's Scott Truxell has labeled me "The Most Optimistic Browns Fan on the Planet."
I fear, though, that Quinn's arrival and the pressure to play him before he is ready will derail the 2007 season, cause the ouster of head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Phil Savage and lead to yet another rebuilding project. That is the main reason for my criticism. I do hope I'm wrong.
I'll be taking a break from "Dawg Days" for the next several weeks, but I will continue to update my Browns blog daily with breaking news, information and commentary.
Here are several of your responses to that column and a few rebuttals:
• I just read your concerns about the Browns draft (Fandemonium 5/3/07). I followed the draft more than usual this year and strongly agree with your assessment. My question is this: if the Browns have a sub .500 season will Crennel still be the coach at this time next year? I hope he is if for no other reason than to keep some semblance of balance and continuity at the head position.
Jeff Collingwood, Monroeville
• Unlike anything I've ever read. The crown jewel is: "The fact that Quinn slid all the way to 22 should be a cause for alarm."
Right next to the statement: "The Ravens, by the way, selected Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith in the fifth round -- a steal." Quinn - 22nd pick, cause for alarm. Smith - 174th pick, a steal (really, because he should've gone 172nd?) Think the Ravens are brilliant? Their previous 1st rounders show they are, and they were trying to get Quinn!
ROCHE'S RESPONSE: I think you missed my point, Mike. I'm not saying Smith is better suited for the NFL than Quinn. I'm saying the Browns didn't need a quarterback and wasted opportunities to improve real areas of need. However, drafting Smith in the fifth-round is a low-risk investment. If he is developed and flourishes, great. If he's a bust, it was only a fifth-round pick. Time will tell.
• Matt, I agree 100% with your article and thoughts about the Browns' draft. Big question... as you stated: "If he is that good, why did teams with real quarterback needs ... not take him?" What did they see or not see? Huge risk! I believe this will set us back, as it has in the past, if this big risk does not payoff.
Dave W., Port Clinton
• I completely disagree with your column on the Browns draft. I suppose it is pretty easy to concoct a draft from a news desk in Norwalk and rely on draft information from Mel Kiper Jr. and some online scouting reports. The Browns interview and thoroughly evaluate these possible draft choices.
By taking Joe Thomas, the Browns made a move the franchise hasn't made in some years (drafting a lineman on the first day).
The move to get Brady Quinn was a gamble, but Phil Savage showed that he is not afraid to make moves and that the draft strategy of past years did not work (Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren, Tim Couch, William Green...)
The reaction of the national media is verification that this was a great move by Savage and the Browns and the excitement that it created for the Cleveland fans is also big for this franchise. I might be speaking from my heart, but give this draft and Phil Savage a chance to put the Browns back on the map as a legitimate NFL playoff & championship team.
ROCHE'S RESPONSE: You're preaching to the choir when it comes to Thomas, Ed. As for Savage's willingness to make moves, being bold doesn't necessarily mean being wise. Mike Ditka wasn't afraid to be bold. Remember Ricky Williams? I wholeheartedly want to give Savage and this draft a chance. He's the best talent evaluator they've had since the team returned to the NFL. I hope at least one of those guys becomes the first Cleveland draft pick to earn a Pro Bowl trip since 1995. I'm the same guy who figured out and published a scenario in which the Browns could still make the playoffs when they were 4-8 last season. But I'm leery about putting too much stock in the national media's endorsement. Remember, the national media hailed Tim Couch as the best QB in the 1999 draft and Butch Davis as a sure-fire solution to Cleveland's coaching woes.
• I completely agree with you on this. We didn't need another QB. Charlie and Derrick should be battling it out for the starting job and we should be deeper on defense from the draft.
As it is now, it doesn't matter who starts if it isn't Quinn. One interception or mistake and everyone will be calling for his head and demanding Quinn get in.
The only way Frye and Anderson have a chance of keeping a starting job is if we go undefeated with them in or Quinn is hurt. I felt they played well enough last year to deserve the shot to be starter. Savage himself even said no QB in the league could have looked good playing behind the line we had last year.