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What I Saw From Derek Anderson

I do think he has what it takes to be a pretty good, long-term solution at QB for an NFL franchise, but I was pretty unimpressed with Anderson's accuracy and feel in the short passing game. I'm not buying anything related to it being rainy, because they keep those balls pretty dry, they have gloves and towels, and Big Ben didn't have any issues.

One large part of my judgment of NFL quarterbacks is whether they have touch on the short to intermediate stuff. You can't play in the NFL if you can't throw the deep-out, so I'm not initially impressed with a QB just because he has 'arm-strength'. Quinn Gray has arm strength; so do Jay Cutler, Michael Vick, Alex Smith. Yet none of those guys, with the possible exception of Cutler has any idea whatsoever of when to throw it hard, and when to take something off it. Did anybody see Smith last night? I could only tune in for a few minutes it was so ugly.  Defenses are certainly getting more complex and the defenders are stronger and faster than ever, but there's also an abundance of what I think are really mediocre QBs in the league right now. It's made for lots of unwatchable football.

I felt Anderson displayed no consistent stretches of touch and rhthym with his passes whatsoever on Sunday against the Steelers after the first drive of the game. Good news for Browns fans is he's shown he can do it. But he got rattled in the second half. He wasn't careless with the ball when under a bit more pressure that half, another very positive sign for Browns fans. But his accuracy disappeared. His receivers could have made a few more plays for him - a number of the passes were catchable, just not easy at all to grab considering how tight the coverage was for most of the second half.

Accuracy and an innate ability to instinctually know what kind of trajectory and pace you need on each throw in about 3 seconds time will keep you in this league a lot longer than arm strength. Arm strength and nothing else will just get you an initial look at Scout Day in college, but it's not going to keep you in the league. It's why Chad Pennington has been around for as long as he has (and why he was the highest rated passer back in 2002); it's why Drew Brees is one of the best QBs in the league (there's a reason other than the gameplan why Reggie Bush catches so many balls - Brees NEVER misfires on swing passes); and it's why Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are the best in the biz.  

Now, it's preferable to have both - Pennington's lack of arm strength has finally caught up with him and cost him his job, and guys like Ken Dorsey will undoubtedly have a clipboard in their hands their entire careers - but I'd contend that you're going to remain competitive and keep your team in more games if you can accurately hit your safety valve and short and intermediate timing patterns, than if you can merely throw a good deep ball and the 25 yard out-patterns to the sideline.