Browns head coach Eric Mangini held off on naming QB Jake Delhomme his starter for Sunday's game at Miami, saying he wanted to study the Dolphins before making a decision, and Mangini indicated that backup Seneca Wallace could merit consideration for playing time, too.
Delhomme, making his first start since Week One, completed 24-of-35 passes for 245 yards in the Browns' 24-23 win over Carolina Sunday. However, he also threw two interceptions, the second of which was returned for a touchdown by Panthers LCB Captain Munnerlyn.
On Monday, Mangini praised Delhomme's leadership and credited him for helping the Browns move the ball well against a Panthers defense capable of causing offenses some "problems," as the head coach put it. However, of Delhomme's turnovers, Mangini noted, "What you want to do is eliminate those mistakes that become gigantic in the scheme of things.”
Delhomme got the start Sunday with Colt McCoy missing the game because of a high ankle sprain. Mangini indicated it was unclear whether McCoy would be available for the Miami game, though he expressed hope he would be.
Wallace, who's made four starts this season, hasn't played since suffering a high ankle sprain in Week Five. Of Wallace, Mangini said: "Seneca will always be a part of the discussion. He’s done a great job when he’s been in there. Just something that I’m going to think through and make a decision on.”
The PFW spin
Delhomme has thrown more interceptions (six) in 2½ games than Wallace and McCoy have combined to throw in 8½ games (five). Two of his interceptions have been returned for scores, and a third allowed the Buccaneers, trailing 14-3, to get in position to score a touchdown that cut Cleveland's lead to four at halftime.
Mangini took pains to talk about the good things Delhomme does, but turnovers continue to be a major worry for the veteran quarterback, who's thrown 24 interceptions in his last 14 regular-season appearances.
"You take some high-risk chances and they hit sometimes and it's great," Mangini said Monday when asked why Delhomme is interception-prone. "Then you take some high-risk chances and they don't, and it's not very good. The thing that you're always trying to do is play the percentages. If it's not there, it's not there, and every play doesn't have to be extended.
"Sometimes the best thing to do is just throw it away. I had a year with someone who is a known chance taker (Brett Favre), so I've lived through that. There are some great positives, and then there are some plays that it doesn't work on. You just want to play the odds."
Asked about working with players to cut down on mistakes, Mangini made an interesting point about the importance of players knowing their limitations, and he also described what he saw in Delhomme's two interceptions:
“I think part of that is just understanding the plays you can make, the plays you can’t make and starting there. I think we all think that we can do the same things over time that we’ve done, and it doesn’t quite happen that way. You have just got to adjust some. I don’t think it’s a dramatic adjustment, but we do have to adjust some to make sure that the volumes of decisions are really good decisions.
"I’d say that the first pick that he threw, I thought the linebacker (Jon Beason) made a really good play. I didn’t see him coming.
"Even on the second pick, I thought (Browns WR) Mohamed (Massaquoi) got grabbed pretty good when he was coming back down the stem, but you don’t want to go to that throw as late as we went to that throw. With that being said, Mohamed got pulled pretty good. I’m not making any excuses or anything like that, but there were things in both of those plays that when you look at it objectively and unemotionally, you understand it a little bit better. We need to be able to not put ourselves in that position.”
While the Browns' starting quarterback for Week 13 remains unclear, this much is certain: Delhomme simply can't make this many glaring mistakes and get many more chances to start, not with Wallace and McCoy playing well during his absence. Delhomme could very well start against the Dolphins — after all, he was the starter to begin the season, and he's played just 10 quarters this year — but he's going to need to take care of the ball better.