July 29, 2014

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No quarterback controversy? Quinn says he’s out to win Browns’ starting job … this year

CLEVELAND — He approached the throng waiting to have a picture taken with him — no autographs, please — and the screams and screeches immediately commenced.
No, Brad Pitt didn’t pop into town Saturday for a stop at the Hummer display at the Cleveland Auto Show. It was just Brady Quinn, the Browns backup quarterback.
Wearing a warmup jacket and jeans, Quinn approached the line of fans — many wearing his No. 10 jersey — that snaked through the I-X Center. One fan couldn’t take it.
“Oh, my God, there he is,” she shouted.
“We love you, Brady,” another screamed.
Quinn may be No. 2 on the depth chart behind newly re-signed Derek Anderson, but he’s No. 1 in the fans’ hearts.
His plan is to be No. 1 on the field, too.
“My whole goal is preparing myself and getting ready to try to take over the starting job and lead this team,” he said.
In a news conference that lasted less than 3½ minutes, Quinn said three times his goal for 2008 is to lead the Browns.
“I’m not going to sit there and play out some sort of controversy,” he said. “Right now I’m just trying to focus on everything that I’m doing to get myself better to lead the Browns next season.”
When Anderson agreed to a three-year, $24 million contract Friday, general manager Phil Savage stated the obvious: “I don’t think there’s going to be ‘open competition.’ We’ll go in with Derek as the lead horse.”
Quinn understands the situation and even applauded Anderson’s signing — “It’s good for our team,” he said. “It puts us in a good position if anything were ever to happen.” — but doesn’t plan on carrying a clipboard.
He said his mind-set is “just competing and try to take this team to the playoffs, something we weren’t able to do last year and it’s something I want to try to take over the starting job and lead for our team,” he said.
When the Browns traded their first-round pick in 2008 for the chance to move up and take Quinn No. 22 in 2007, he was deemed the future of the franchise. Quinn looked good in preseason after holding out, then spent the final 15 weeks of the regular season as Anderson’s backup and didn’t throw a pass until the finale, when he went 3-for-8 for 45 yards.
Coach Romeo Crennel will open camp with Anderson as the starter, but reiterated his stance that competition breeds success.
“Both of those guys are going to compete and then we’ll see who gives us the best chance,” he said Saturday morning at Browns headquarters. “We’ve always done it that way and that’s what we’re going to do.
“Both guys will make each other better. Both guys will help the Browns win and that’s what we want.”
Quinn was a four-year starter at Notre Dame, so standing on the sideline last year was an adjustment. He didn’t even want to think about doing it again this year.
“I’d rather address that when it would actually happen,” he said. “I don’t want to play out scenarios right now. There’s a lot of time left to get better and see how the situation unfolds.”
“Brady is a competitor. He wants to play and we understand that,” Crennel said. “I think he’s a professional and being a professional, if he is with the Browns he will be a Brown.”
When Savage was contemplating Anderson leaving through restricted free agency, he said Quinn had benefited from a season of standing and watching.
“He probably became a little better passer,” Savage said Thursday. “He tweaked some of his mechanics. I feel like he’s an accurate thrower and throws the seam ball really well and some of the underneath things.
“He has all the key ingredients to be successful in the league.”
Quinn stands to lose out financially if he remains stuck behind Anderson. If Quinn doesn’t play 55 percent of the snaps in 2008 or 70 percent in 2009, he would lose out on $11 million of incentives.
From the reaction Saturday and throughout the week on chat rooms and talk radio, fans are anxious to see Quinn earn that money.
“It means a ton,” Quinn said of the fans’ reaction. “I’m an Ohio guy, I know what it’s like to work for everything that you get. I know how it is. Nothing comes easy.
“I’m excited to work hard, continue to prepare, compete and try to work for a starting job. It’s just amazing to see the type of support that you get from everyone from Ohio, Columbus, Cleveland, everywhere in Ohio.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.