Stop it right now.
Don’t even think about it.
If you know nothing else, know this. There is no quarterback controversy on
the Cleveland Browns. At least not at this point.
If Charlie Frye is healthy enough to start against the Steelers Thursday
night in Pittsburgh, he’s your quarterback. Period.
Coach Romeo Crennel has enough headaches already. No need to throw another
log into that fire.
This if Frye’s team. No matter how you think he’s played, he is still the
Browns’ No. 1 quarterback. The Browns have invested a lot of time, energy and
money into making him their offensive leader.
It makes no sense throwing him to the wolves based on one performance by
someone whose previous National Football League experience consisted of one snap
against the Denver Broncos in game six this season.
And that was a simple handoff to Reuben Droughns for a four-yard gain over
left guard late in the first quarter. Frye, who suffered a minor concussion
moments earlier, returned on the next play and quarterbacked the rest of the
It’s so easy to sit back and say Derek Anderson should start the Steelers
game after leading the Browns to that comeback victory over the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday in front of a lot of vacant orange seats at Cleveland Browns
Stadium. If he can do it against the Chiefs, why not the Steelers?
There’s no question that Anderson has a stronger arm
than Frye. Much stronger.
There’s no question he gets rid of the ball quicker than Frye. Much quicker.
And there’s no question he seems unflappable in the face of a pass rush. Very
His improbable scramble down the right sideline that set up Phil Dawson’s
game-winner in overtime was right out of Gil Thorp. Kansas
City free safety Greg Wesley, who whiffed on
at the Chiefs’ 35, is still looking for the protector to his private parts.
Anderson confessed after the game he hadn’t
made a run like that since his days at Scappoose (Ore.)
High School. Yep, Gil Thorp.
Based on how this season has unfolded, it’s very easy for Browns fans to get
excited about the gangly kid from
The frustration of this season has reached such disparaging levels, fans will
latch on to just about anything resembling hope in an effort to feel good about
suddenly and improbably become the feel-good poster boy. So why not make the
switch to him even if Frye can go Thursday night? What has Crennel got to lose?
For one thing, the Chiefs had no idea who
was. They did not prepare for this stranger. No film. No advance scouting
report. Nothing. They focused on shutting down Frye. And they had trouble doing
even that in the first half.
By the time Thursday night arrives, the Steelers will know everything about Anderson. And then some. Guaranteed.
Even if Frye’s sore wrist heals sufficiently enough to enable him to play
against the Steelers, Anderson’s profile will be in Pittsburgh’s data base along with film from
the Chiefs game.
Based solely on his effort Sunday against Kansas City, Anderson gives the Browns a chance to win
games. I can’t remember the last time they came from 14 points down in the
fourth quarter to win a game. Had to be before the return in 1999.
Taking into consideration the Browns’ defense has surrendered 82 points in
the last 10 quarters, the ability to come back cannot be minimized. It is
What must be determined is whether
Anderson’s showing is a microcosm of things to come or an
months younger than Frye even though both were drafted in 2005, showed poise
beyond his 23 years against the Chiefs. But was that because he had nothing to
lose and let it all hang out? Or was it because he has the intangibles a good
quarterback needs to become successful?
I know one thing. Frye doesn’t make that throw to Steve Heiden from three
yards out to tie the score in the final minute and send the game into overtime.
That was a tough throw and Anderson squeezed it into
a tiny area where only his tight end could catch it.
So why did he have to wait until the end of the sixth round to be selected by
the Baltimore Ravens in the 2005 draft?
Certainly not his 79 career touchdown passes or 11,249 career passing yards. Perhaps it
was his 50.7% completion rate. Then again, it might have been because he threw
57 interceptions, fumbled 23 times and was sacked 95 times.
But all that is lost in the glow of Sunday’s victory.
Whether Crennel likes it or not, his backup quarterback’s performance Sunday
will divide fans into two camps: Those who want Frye and those who, well, don’t.
If nothing else, at least the coach now knows he doesn’t have to get
religious the next time he has to call on his backup quarterback.
The question is: Who is that backup quarterback going to be?