I'm not going to spend nearly the time previewing this game as I usually do for obvious reasons, but I wanted to throw my two cents out there regarding one subject.
Who should the Browns play at QB?
To me, the obvious choice is Bruce Gradkowski, the 3rd year sojourner from Toledo. Gradkowski, a Pittsburgh native, was acquired by the Browns late in the season when both Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson were shut down for the year.
(By the way real quick, I just saw this article from yesterday about the truth behind the rumor that defensive lineman Shaun Smith punched Brady Quinn in the weight room last week. He was inactive last week against Cincinnati due to a 'coach's decision'. For the sake of the fans of Cleveland, I hope this year turns out to be one giant anomaly (not in terms of wins of course, but in terms of just effort and a product worthy of watching and being proud of), but I wrote all summer long that I could see the Browns melting down if they got off to a slow start. There's nothing you can do about losing your top 2 QBs, but what does the team do next year? Has anything been resolved? Part of the reason I was skeptical was because I thought Quinn was a polarizing figure in the locker room. Those are some gnarly and tough grown men in that locker room, and they're supposed to look to Quinn for leadership and inspiration and mental toughness? I don't see it happening unless the team's just winning so much there can be no friction).
Gradkowski was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2006. He got his chance to start when starter Chris Simms ruptured his spleen. You may remember Gradkowski from 2006 when the Steelers and Bucs faced off at Heinz Field in Week 12. The Steelers were just about at rock bottom at that point in the season. They sported an amazingly disappointing 4-7 record into the game. The Steelers won that day 20-3, picking off Gradkowski 3 times.
I loved watching John Chucky Gruden make that devilish look of disappointment after each of Gradkowski's errors, but in between his costly turnovers were some nice plays and throws from him. He finished the day 20/34 for 175 yards. His mobility is what was fairly impressive though. He also rushed 6 times for 26 yards.
A win at Heinz Field might mean Gradkowski will be signing
autographs for folks outside the city of Toledo for the first time in his life.
Anyway, Ken Dorsey is also suffering from the effects of a concussion last week and bruised ribs. Doesn't sound smart to throw him out there against a Steelers defense that will be angry, even if it is just the backups for much of the game.
We'll see what kind of weather there is for this one and what kind of effect that might have on Pittsburgh's ability to score a few TDs. If the Browns do need to manufacture some scoring drives of their own to keep it close and have a shot at winning, I think they'd be much better off with Gradkowski. He may not be in ultimate game shape, and he may be a bit limited in his knowledge of the playbook. Still, I saw enough of Ken Dorsey this past three weeks to convince me that Gradkowski at least might give them a bit more arm strength, a bit more mobility, and perhaps even a bit more spunk, something we can all agree seems to be missing from the Cleveland offense. Throw in a few more packages with Josh Cribbs and Cleveland may have a fighting chance against a Steelers team that surely will be playing 2nd stringers at important offensive positions.