The Cleveland Browns did not name a starting quarterback after minicamp, effectively continuing a trend that has plagued the city since the 2007 NFL Draft.
Veteran Jake Delhomme, who will earn $7 million this coming season, is expected to be the Browns starter once the season begins, but either Seneca Wallace has shown tremendous promise or coach Eric Mangini just doesn't understand how damaging keeping starters a closely-guarded secret can be. Although, Mangini did suggest Delhomme is in the lead recently.
For example, letting Wallace believe he is in the race only to have him lose out to a guy who clearly was brought to town to be the starter would more than likely hurt his long-term confidence than help it. In the time right after the decision is made, Wallace would likely feel good about his abilities, but sitting a season on the bench behind a grizzled veteran will not help the confidence of a player who has been in the league since 2003.
If I were Wallace, I would want to know my place on the team and would want to practice as such. What if Wallace is to primarily be used in the wildcat formation but he spends too much time running reps with the first team? Then the wildcat plays probably struggle and both Wallace and Joshua Cribbs are not used to their potential.
The Browns have three quarterbacks on their roster, and none of them had any experience in Mangini's systems before this season. Wouldn't it make more sense to have one guy in place as the starter so he cane figure out how to best run the offense so the team has a better chance of competing during the season?
I understand that any coach should give all his new quarterbacks a chance to prove themselves in the system, but in the Browns situation, that should not apply. As mentioned, Delhomme is making starter money, Wallace is not (some $1.5 million). The Browns are a team on the rise and don't need any further distractions, or they will never make it over the top. Running first-team reps with two different quarterbacks will do just that.
In reality, there may not be anything to Mangini's not naming a starter. Perhaps behind closed doors he has already explained the situation to his quarterbacks, but who really thinks that has happened?
Parallels to 2007
In 2007, the Browns had two third-year quarterbacks, Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson as well as a touted rookie, Brady Quinn. That season, there was an open competition between the incumbent, Frye, and Anderson, which resulted in Frye winning the job.
Quinn sat the bench that season, must like rookie Colt McCoy is expected to do this season.
In the 2007 season's first game, however, Frye (pictured) was benched and traded away in favor of Anderson, who eventually led the Browns to a 10-6 record. In 2008 and 2009, Anderson and Quinn battled for the starting job, leading to inconsistency from both. Injuries did play a role, but when healthy, neither player looked confident enough on the field to win.
That all came among times of change, as there was a different offensive coordinator each season. Because no one quarterback was given the chance to truly learn the offense by practicing with the first team every day, the team struggled. There was obviously more to it than that, but if a quarterback is expected to be the team's leader, he should have enough confidence in himself and the team's offense to run it well.
Because Delhomme and Wallace have more experience than any of the quarterbacks in from 2007-2009, there could be different results, but I still believe it would be best for the Browns to name their starter as Delhomme and try to find the best way to utilize Wallace in the offense.
Delhomme image from The Plain Dealer
Wallace image from The Plain Dealer