Quarterbacks “R” Us: Who’s up next?

The jersey is world famous, but the reason for it will forever live in sports infamy. The Cleveland Browns’ quarterback situation has become an age old tradition since the franchise’s reincarnation in 1999. The lack of stability that has existed at the position is nothing short of laughable, which is why many Clevelanders have just chosen to laugh along.

Everyone knows how the story begins, with Tim Couch as the franchise quarterback of the future. Couch was a product of the University of Kentucky, which hasn’t been good at football since the legendary Bear Bryant left in 1953. The red flags were flying from the very beginning, but I suppose hindsight is 20/20. Couch still has the most wins as a starter since 1999, so his legacy is technically the best out of all of them? Dear God.

As we move along here, there’s no need to analyze the whole list for reasons that are obvious to anyone familiar with this phenomenon. In lieu of composing an epic of this “proud” history, I’m just going to pick five of the quarterbacks from the jersey above that are my favorites and explain why they should be your’s too. Consider this the authoritative breakdown of the “best” Browns signal callers since 1999.

5. Tim Couch

Couch gets the nod for this prestigious fraternity because he was the one who started it all, even though Ty Detmer was technically the opening day starter in ’99. He is the winningest starter since the Browns returned to Cleveland, but as you’ll see, this list isn’t all about numbers. While some may not have entirely fond memories of Couch’s career as a whole, he did start the majority of the games in the current franchise’s first season back and led the Browns to their only playoff appearance since the reincarnation. Both were proud moments for a proud franchise.

4. Derek Anderson

Big Derek Anderson was a fun player for fans that were really paying attention. He was claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens in 2005, and it seemed like he was going to make Baltimore look stupid in 2007 when he went 10-5 as a starter. He even beat the Ravens that year. While he had the help of Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, who were having the seasons of their respective careers, the 2007 season was just another piece of a great sports year for Cleveland. Of course, it all ended up being a huge tease, but it was wondrous while it lasted.

3. Charlie Frye

There are two reasons for this one. The first is that Frye is an Ohioan and was a fan favorite from his time with the Akron Zips. It was a nice story that most could have foreseen ending poorly. Frye was never going to be a great starter for the Browns, but the crowing achievement of his tenure with the team is easily the superfan duo, Charlie’s Fryes. They formed an official fan club, which I obviously joined. Still have the membership card and t-shirt somewhere in a box. Man, those were the good days.

2. Brady Quinn

Brady Quinn earns a spot on this list because of the false hope that he gave the Browns from the get go. I can still remember the Notre Dame jerseys and screaming hoards of high school girls every day at training camp. His draft day free fall was just like Aaron Rodgers’, only his career ended up being nothing like Aaron Rodgers’. Despite his lackluster performance in Cleveland, nobody can ever forget the A+ work he’s done in the advertising world. Now I’m done.

1. Bryan Hoyer

Hoyer is the best thing that ever happened to the Browns that nobody ever got to see completely realized. With the team likely to pick a quarterback in this year’s NFL Draft, Hoyer may never start again for the Browns, which truly is sad. An Ignatius grad and native Clevelander, he is the only Browns quarterback in the team’s entire history to start more than one game  (he started three) and win all of them. Is the sample size too small to say that he’s a star that just needed the right opportunity? Probably. Unfortunately, that question could go unanswered for eternity. With all of that said, here’s to hoping that Hoyer gets another chance somewhere in the NFL once he is fully healthy. Also, this.

So, there you have it. The five best Cleveland Browns quarterbacks since 1999 based on a ridiculously twisted and subjective scale. If you feel that someone has been slighted, I would love to read your e-mails and wouldn’t be opposed to writing a revised edition at a later date.

The only thing left to discuss here is who will be the starter on Sunday in New England when the Browns take on the Patriots. Coach Chudzinski told the media today that Jason Campbell has been cleared to return to practice, which certainly makes it possible that he will be the guy this weekend.

Campbell deserves the start if he’s ready and would obviously give the Browns the best possible chance to win, but with the playoffs now firmly out of the picture it could be fun to see another name added to that infamous jersey. If that is the case, the clear choice is Alex Tanney. Why?

If ya don’t know, now ya know. Go Browns.

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