Mangini will continue to start Anderson

Updated: October 26, 2009, 8:58 PM ET
Associated Press

BEREA, Ohio -- One day after another humiliating home loss, a few Cleveland defensive players spent part of their afternoon betting each other on who could shoot a ball from behind a laundry bin into a garbage can across their spacious locker room.

After several minutes and misfires, something became evident.

They're not very good at made-up games, either.

The Browns (1-6) seem stuck in reverse. Their offense -- ranked 31st overall -- has managed just four touchdowns in 81 possessions this season. Their defense -- ranked dead last -- can't tackle, can't cover, can't blitz, can't do anything. After Sunday's 31-3 win over Cleveland, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said the Packers' scout team did a better job during practice last week of simulating Cleveland's defense than the real Browns.

Cheap shot, 15 yards.

Sadly, Rodgers was right.

And simply put, the Browns are horrible.

On Monday, coach Eric Mangini was asked if he plans to bench Derek Anderson, the NFL's lowest-rated quarterback, for backup Brady Quinn or anyone else.

"No," Mangini offered, shaking his head.

So, you're sticking with him?

Mangini nodded.

Anderson went 12 of 29 for 99 yards against the Packers, whose veteran cornerbacks shut down Cleveland's wide receivers and forced the Browns QB to throw to his backs and tight ends. Anderson has completed just 23 of 70 passes in the past three games and now has an overall 40.6 rating -- nearly seven points behind the league's second-lowest ranked QB, Oakland's JaMarcus Russell.

Yet despite the atrocious stats, Mangini feels Anderson gives his team the best chance to win and will not switch back to Quinn, who began the season as Cleveland's starter but was replaced after only 10 quarters.

"I think he gives us the best chance right now to move the ball," Mangini said of Anderson. "I know his numbers have not been impressive, but he isn't alone in producing those numbers. There's been a significant amount of drops. There's been times where we had chances and there's been some breakdowns in protection.

"I've also seen him complete some balls that were well thrown and well caught. I've seen him complete those plays not just in games, but also in practice."

Anderson is grateful for Mangini's support, but knows he must improve or he will lose his job.

"I need to get better," he said. "All of us have to look at what we can do to get better. We watch plays and we're just one guy off. I miss a throw by a yard. It was really close on a lot. We left a lot of offense out there yesterday. It's frustrating."

Imagine then, how Quinn must feel.

He won the starting job over Anderson following their drawn-out battle through training camp and the exhibition season only to have it yanked away after only 2½ games.

Still, Quinn is taking the high road, giving all the right answers.

Quinn insists he is not perplexed why he's not getting another shot, and says he's not dwelling on something he can't control. He hasn't been pushing Mangini or offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to put him in again -- that's not his style -- and said he has no personal problems with his coaches.

"There are a lot of things I can do to get better," said Quinn, who made three starts last season before he was sidelined by a finger injury. "We follow our head coach and whatever our head coach says, we go with."

Mangini maintains his decision to stick with Anderson is not because the team is trying to avoid paying Quinn $11 million he would earn this season if he plays in 70 percent of the team's offensive snaps.

"Nothing," Mangini said when asked if the money was a factor. "Zero. Nothing to do with it."

Quinn doesn't think his contract has anything to do with him being demoted and kept on the sideline.

"No," he said, "and I hope that's not the case. This is a game of football and we're just trying to win out there."

It's not happening and the losing is taking its toll on everyone in Cleveland. The Browns have lost 12 of 13 overall and eight straight at home.

On Sunday, a few sick puppies in the Dawg Pound wore paper bags over their heads to hide their shamed faces. Other Browns fans chanted vainly for Quinn, who never got the emergency call from Mangini. Thousands more fled Cleveland's lakefront stadium at halftime, hoping to salvage part of a crisp autumn afternoon.

This was not the place to be.

The stands were so empty in the third quarter that Rodgers barked his signals and said everyone on the field could hear him.

"Very quiet," he said.

Mangini understands the fans' frustration and knows it's up to him and his players to do something about it.

"It's important for us to give them something to cheer about," he said. "That's what we have to do. It's a passionate group, and I respect that. We need to continue to move forward and make sure that nobody wants to leave the stadium."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press