By Ross Tucker
September 04, 2009

Please, Eric Mangini, for the sake of your locker room, your career, and your city, name a starting quarterback. I don't know what your logic is in waiting this long. You didn't even play Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn in the final preseason game, so clearly the "competition" is over.

I understand that you wanted to make it an open competition and give the keys to the guy who performed the best in your new system under offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. I get that. But have you thought about the messages you are sending to everyone involved with the organization, especially the players.

The first thing abundantly clear at this point is you don't really like either of them. You may say it is a good situation and that you have two solid choices, but if you really liked one of them and thought he was your guy for your tenure in Cleveland, you would have already named him the starter. Instead, you have given the appearance that you are picking the lesser of two evils. Now that will get the rest of the guys to rally around that signal caller. Sheesh.

When you wait this long to choose between two veterans, every player on the roster recognizes that the guy who starts Week 1 will not necessarily still be the guy in Week 4, or earlier for that matter. We know the quarterback might worry about being jerked every time he makes a bad throw, which is bad enough. But at this point you have insured that wide receivers and offensive linemen will be looking at the sidelines if your starter struggles. That's not good.

Most people assume you are holding off on naming Quinn the starter, which he should be, because you want to trade Anderson. Do you really think acting like Anderson may be the starter is increasing his trade value? Really? I highly doubt that.

Or maybe you really think keeping it quiet will give you a competitive advantage for the opener against the Vikings. That's pretty silly for a couple of reasons. One, I think it will leak out which QB is getting most of the reps in practice. Second, Minnesota is going to have to prepare for both guys anyway because, who knows, you may pull the starter at halftime if he isn't playing up to your standards.

Quinn deserves the job because it is time to find out what he can do. It is really that simple. We know Anderson is talented but inconsistent. There was no clear separation in the preseason, so let's see what the local guy can do. The excitement around the city and in the community could even help give the club a boost.

I understand you like to play mind games and see how players react. I don't blame you for that necessarily. But some guys don't play well in those uncertain circumstances, and quarterback is not the position to be increasing the uncertainty on a daily basis. If you don't believe me, ask Rod Hood, whom you cut earlier this week.

"I never really knew where I stood there on a day-to-day basis, and I had never experienced that before in Philly and Arizona," said Hood, who landed with the Bears. "I would be first string one day and play well and then the next day I would be second string with no rhyme or reason."

That is the way things are in Cleveland so far under Mangini's watch.

Mail and tweets ...

Great article, and very selfless of you to be so honest about how emotional and personal a job like this is. My question is about those players that get cut, like Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Ray Garvin, who was put on Waivers/IR. How does he keep his résumé in front of other teams so that he makes a practice squad or a roster somewhere. How do you compete with 600 other people who are all getting their pink slips every year.--Timothy Gallagher, Lindenhurst, N.Y.

It isn't easy. Every guy that gets cut is told by that team that there are 31 other teams and that they will likely land elsewhere. The reality is it very rarely happens. The market gets flooded and if you are one of those guys that gets cut on the final day, you become just another name on the board. That's why if you are going to get released, the earlier the better.

How is preparing for the first week of the season different from the rest of the year? Is it harder to prepare for teams with new coordinators, for example, when there isn't game film to study?--Dan Brown, Decatur, Ga.

It is a lot different and absolutely harder preparing for a first-week opponent than the other 15 games, especially if the team has new coordinators. Teams actually end up watching game film from wherever those coaches were before because they really don't know what's going to be thrown at them and they can't trust what they saw in the preseason. That's one reason there are several Week 1 upsets every year.

Does fan noise really bother most players? After games, the home team always thanks the fans for making it hard on the opponent and the away team always says it just made them change things up a little (hand signals, etc).--Jeremiah Tenneson, Derwood, Md.

Yeah, it really does. Especially near the goal line and on third-and-long. On the goal line you can't always get off on the snap count, so the defense may actually beat you to the punch. On third-and-long, when the quarterback is in the shotgun, it is very difficult for the linemen to hear his cadence, so they use a silent count and watch the center's head. That's not fun for anybody, especially the center, who has to look through his legs for the quarterback's signal while the defenders might be moving around or putting a 350-pound man five inches from his face.

Can you touch on how big Ray Rice might be this year?--@sportsdanny (via Twitter)

I am going to go with 5-foot-8, 210 pounds.

Oh, you wanted to know how productive he is going to be? Very. I think he easily will have over 1,000 yards rushing, even though he will share some carries with Willis McGahee. Just as important, I would bet Rice ends up catching 50-60 balls.

With the 1st pick in the 2010 draft.... who will be the worst team in football this year?--@jbailey1014 (via Twitter)

I would say the Tampa Bay Bucs. Tough division, very unsettled quarterback situation, question marks on defense galore. Did I mention they just fired their offensive coordinator? Yeah, not looking good for the men in pewter this year.

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