You’ve seen the jersey by now. There have been so many different Browns under center that you’ve hopefully forgotten a few of them. The Browns’ passing game is taken as seriously as Tyler Perry at the Oscars.
Yet, the question begs to be answered: Which Browns quarterbacks have best lived up to the hype? We have seen first-round picks and journeyman veterans, local kids and NFL nomads. Each has come with his own set of expectations. Virtually none have lived up to them. But these things exist on a spectrum, and it is up to us to figure out exactly where they lie. So I put out a feeler to Browns fan Condoleeza Rice, and she assembled a crack staff of diplomats, advisers and statisticians to come up with the answer:
This was a truly terrifying exercise. It’s common knowledge that Browns quarterbacks have performed only slightly better than VHS sales since 1999, but studying the names and statistics really drives the point home. Did you know that Bruce Gradkowski’s QB rating was 2.8 in Cleveland? Had you forgotten that Doug Pederson started eight games in 2000 when Tim Couch got hurt? Do you realize that one could make a strong argument for Couch being the best Browns quarterback of the century?
It’s stunning to look at the names and remember believing in some of these guys. Brady Quinn’s tumble down the draft board was hilarious—until we took him, then he was a godsend. Colt McCoy won 45 games and completed 70% of his tosses in college! Jake Delhomme’s veteran savvy! Charlie Frye’s moxie! Brandon Weeden’s…age?
The point is: The Browns’ recent QB history is absolutely as bad as you think it is, and maybe even worse. The psychic camels from the World Cup could do a better job of finding snap-takers. And despite the likes of Trent Dilfer winning a Super Bowl, one axiom holds true in the NFL: You need a quarterback—maybe not an “elite” one, but one who won’t snap defeat from the jaws of victory twice a season. One who can consistently be better than awful. Maybe even one capable of winning a game by himself. The Browns haven’t found that guy, and they had 20 chances through last season. Tonight, we’ll get a closer look at number 21.
No pressure, Johnny.
[Can’t name ’em all? Use the handy key and relive the misery! QBs are listed chronologically.]