Six Points on the Cleveland Browns (March 9)

Christopher MaherCorrespondent IMarch 9, 2010

SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 08:  Quarterback Seneca Wallace #15 of the Seattle Seahawks, who was inserted as a wide receiver, passes on a reverse play against the Detroit Lions on November 8, 2009 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Lions 32-20. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns are making some moves, none big enough to garner huge headlines, but some solid moves nonetheless.

Six Points sees the moves as a continuation of building the foundation for the team. Nothing sexy, just solid. Stop the foundation from leaking, and worry about the media room later.

1. Past Performance Does Not Guarantee Future Results:

That’s the boilerplate disclaimer on advertising for any investment vehicle.

But just as a mutual fund manager moves from one firm to another, Mike Holmgren has established a modus operandi wherever he has gone, and it’s hard to argue with the track record.

In San Francisco, Green Bay, Seattle, and now Cleveland, he has acquired castoffs or backups with prior NFL experience, and that hasn’t worked out badly.

See: Young, Steve; Favre, Brett; Hasselbeck, Matt.

Now, Wallace, Seneca.

For a conditional 2011 pick, the veteran backup comes to the lakefront with experience working under Holmgren and experience in the West Coast Offense.

For his career, he has a 59.9 percent completion rate, a TD/INT ratio of 25/14, and a QB rating of 83.1.

Comparatively, Brady Quinn has a completion rate of 52.1, a TD/INT ratio of 10/9, and a career QB rating of 66.8.

Derek Anderson? He’s completed 52.9 percent of his throws, thrown 46 TDs to 45 picks and amassed a rating of 69.7 for his career.

The numbers by themselves will lead a Browns fan to say “He’s better than what we have.”

But, at the end of the day, he is who we thought he was. A backup.

Ted Marchibroda once said “Ask a backup quarterback to win you three games, and he’ll win you three games. Ask him to win you six games, and he’ll win you three.”

While Wallace is accurate and athletic with a strong arm and good field vision, if the roster remains unchanged (with the obvious exception written on the wall), Brady Quinn looks to be the starter for the time being.

For the time being.

Six Points would not be surprised if the Browns took Dan LeFevour of Central Michigan in the third of fourth round as a project.

2. Just Another Guy, or a Cheap Date?

Tony Pashos? Who?

Pashos, at 6’5,” 325, certainly has the size to be a road grader at right tackle. He could also fall into the “can’t be any worse” category.

As in, John St. Clair couldn’t be any worse than Kevin Shaffer at RT, and Pashos could be to St. Clair what the front office of 2009 thought St. Clair would have been to Shaffer.

The upside to this signing is that, if Pashos pans out at RT for a few years, the Browns don’t have to burn a relatively high draft choice on the position.

The caveat emptor is, that like St. Clair from the Bears, Pashos comes from the 49ers, another squad with OL issues of its own.

This signing falls under the category of “wait and see.”

3. The Fujita Scale:

Now, for a signing Six Points likes. A whole lot.

Scott Fujita, 30, was signed to a multi-year deal as an unrestricted free agent from the Saints.

Unbelievably, linebacker is one position where the Browns look to have some hard personnel decisions this season.

Rarely have the Browns, at any position, faced the problem of possibly releasing players who still have value.

That’s a good problem to have.

While Fujita will never be mistaken for Ray Lewis in terms of raw talent, he won’t be mistaken for Lewis by the legal system, either.

In the 4-3 defense the Saints ran, he called the defensive signals. Fujita seems to fit the “tough, smart, character” football player Mangini, and apparently Holmgren and GM Tom Heckert, prefer.

In terms of on-field leadership, having a Super Bowl ring doesn't hurt, either.

Fujita also deserves plaudits for how he left New Orleans.

Of his $82,000 Super Bowl check, he donated half of it to charity. Of that $41,000, $20,500 went to earthquake relief in Haiti, and another $20,500 went to the continued rebuilding of New Orleans.

Add “class” to “tough," "smart,” and “character.”

4. The Not So Odd Couple:

Immediately after the 2009-10 season, odds were long that Mike Holmgren would retain Eric Mangini as head coach.

They had their sitdown, the smoke rose from the Berea Vatican, and Mangini stayed.

To an outsider, it was hard to fathom that a West Coast Offense quarterback guru and a Parcells/Belichick disciple could coexist, much less be on the same page.

Well, they coexist, and it looks like they are on the same paragraph.

Case in point: the Seneca Wallace trade.

In 2009, Mangini filled a number of holes in the short term by raiding the Jets roster of lower-tier players. As any executive would do in the rest of the world, he brought former subordinates in to implement his system among the rank and file.

Now, Holmgren and GM Tom Heckert look to pursue the same type of player Mangini did in 2009. At the very least, there will be two more organizations for the Browns to raid.

Better yet, from the type of player the regime is bringing in, fans will read about them in the box score instead of the police blotter.

5. Mr. Smith Crawls to Cleveland?

Very unlikely.

Six Points had to laugh at Troy Smith’s agent’s assertion that his client would be willing to crawl from Baltimore to Cleveland to play for the Browns.

Prior to the acquisition of Wallace, there was plenty of speculation about the Cleveland native, Glenville High School grad and Ohio State Heisman Trophy winner crawling across the Turnpike and donning the orange helmet, but it was all NFL Silly Season speculation.

As Six Points thought it was in the first place.

Although Smith only has a fifth-round tender, Baltimore has the right to block any transaction involving the backup QB.

Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome would have been loath to let Smith go to an AFC North rival.

For Smith, the crawl down Interstate 95 to Washington would be shorter and more likely.

6. Derek, We Hardly Knew Ye:

This just in: As of 2:42 p.m. EST, it has been confirmed that the Cleveland Browns have released Derek Anderson.

Actually, we knew ye all too well. Scintillating one game and exasperating the next.

Who needs Tim Tebow in Cleveland when you made us scream Jesus’ name for years on Sunday?

It’s practically a foregone conclusion that on or before Derek Anderson’s $2 million roster bonus is due March 19, he’ll be released to ply his trade elsewhere.

Albeit not for $9 million a year.

But, Six Points will wager a pint of Sierra Nevada that Anderson will last longer in the NFL than Brady Quinn.

A rocket arm and a quick release will always find a home in the NFL, and coaches and GMs tend to drool over those attributes.

In the early 1990s, Bill Belichick picked up Vinny Testaverde, whose Tampa Bay career was abysmal, to bring to Cleveland.

In terms of judgment, Vinny was exasperating, but you could not coach his big arm.

If nothing else, coaches have large egos, and they think they can “coach up” a player that has the physical tools.

Testaverde’s Cleveland career was, well, mediocre.

Still, he stated in the league until he was over 40, having acquired the reputation as a solid veteran by the time he retired after 21 seasons.

Teams were willing to take a flier on Testaverde, hoping that “the light would come on” with his arm strength.

As of now, Anderson has a similar profile. Next stop, Arizona?

Extra Point: Seneca, Change Your Number:

People change their phone numbers all of the time to stop harassment, stalking, or whatever. They might not want to, but they often have to.

Mr. Wallace, welcome to Cleveland. Now, change your number.

You wore No. 15 at Iowa State, and you’ve worn it in Seattle. You probably like wearing that number.

But, longtime Browns fans associate that number with the biggest bust ever to play your position in Cleveland, a first-round pick named Mike Phipps who completed less than half his passes over his career.

And speaking of picks, don’t even go there.

Could Six Points interest you in Number 3? It's now available.


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