D.A. blasts Browns fans
Published: Tuesday, March 9, 2010
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By Jeff Schudel
Derek Anderson's contract was terminated on Tuesday.
His parting message to Browns fans will ring long after his passing statistics from the past five years fade into obscurity.
"The fans are ruthless and don't deserve a winner," Anderson wrote Tuesday in a terse e-mail when asked for a reaction to being released. "I will never forget getting cheered when I was injured.
"I know at times I wasn't great. I hope and pray I'm playing when my team comes to town and (we) roll them."
Anderson was cut one day after the Browns traded an undisclosed 2011 draft choice to the Seahawks for quarterback Seneca Wallace.
In the weeks leading up to the trade for Wallace, which occurred on the fourth day trades could be made this winter, Browns president Mike Holmgren remained vague on his assessment of Anderson and Brady Quinn.
He would say Quinn hadn't played enough to be judged fairly and say Anderson had passing skills but threw too many interceptions.
Holmgren said he met with Quinn once after moving into team headquarters in early January. He lamented never having hooked up with Anderson, who headed home to Oregon the day after the 2009 season ended. Anderson was the winning quarterback in the final two games of the four-game winning streak at the end of the season. His overall record as a Browns starter was 16-18.
"I never heard from anyone until today," Anderson wrote in his e-mail response. "Nobody ever tried to reach out to me, which is fine."
Anderson was with the Browns for five seasons after being picked up on waivers from the Ravens in 2005. He always had a strong camaraderie with his teammates in the locker room.
Anderson's high point during his time with the Browns was his Pro Bowl season in 2007, when he was 10-5 as a starter while completing 298 of 527 passes for 3,787 yards and 29 touchdowns. He threw 19 interceptions.
The low point occurred on Nov. 30, 2008, when, with 1:16 to play in a 10-6 loss to the Colts, former Browns tackle Kevin Shaffer gave up a sack to Robert Mathis. Anderson suffered a torn knee ligament on the tackle. Fans at Cleveland Browns Stadium cheered as Anderson lay on the ground in obvious pain.
Earlier in the game, with the Browns leading, 6-3, Dwight Freeney beat Joe Thomas, sacked Anderson and forced a fumble. Mathis picked up the ball and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown.
In 2008 and 2009, Anderson and Quinn were up and down as the starting quarterback. The back and forth changes, by Romeo Crennel in 2008 and by Eric Mangini in 2009, did not work out for the Browns or either player.
"I want to thank Derek for everything that he gave to the Cleveland Browns organization over the last five years," Mangini said in a statement released by the Browns, a kind sendoff that was a sharp contrast to what Anderson had to say a couple hours later. "He did everything we asked of him, and it was a pleasure to coach such a competitive person. I want to wish him all the best in the future."
Anderson never came close to matching that magical 2007 season before or after it, but his success in 2007 earned him a three-year, $24 million contract from former general manager Phil Savage.
In part, the huge contract led to his release. Anderson was due $2 million in a roster bonus a week from Friday and his 2007 contract was for $7.45 million. As Anderson was leaving the locker room after the final game of the 2009 season, he predicted his career in Cleveland was finished.
"They're not going to want to pay me that much money," he said.
This was more than a salary dump, however.
Anderson's strength was throwing the ball downfield, and that does not fit the offense the Browns are transitioning to.
Everything now points to the Browns becoming a West Coast offense — a system that emphasizes short passes to receivers in stride to open the running game. Holmgren coached the West Coast in Green Bay and Seattle for 17 years, and his right-hand man in the Browns' front office, Gil Haskell, was the offensive coordinator for Holmgren in Seattle.
During the scouting combine in Indianapolis last month, Holmgren said Haskell has been going over the nuances of the West Coast offense with Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
Wallace used the West Coast in 47 games and 14 starts with the Seahawks since 2005. Also, Quinn's talent is best suited for throwing short passes. The pecking order between Quinn and Wallace has not been defined.
General Manager Tom Heckert is expected to look for a quarterback schooled in the West Coast offense in the draft next month.