April 17, 2014

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Browns’ Crennel still looking for a No. 1 QB

CLEVELAND — Browns coach Romeo Crennel won’t be able to flip a coin forever. And what happens tonight after the quarter lands could make up his mind.
The biggest decision facing Crennel this preseason is who to start at quarterback Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only is quarterback the most important position on the field, the first four games could determine Crennel’s future with the Browns.
A good start and anything’s possible. Three home losses to AFC North rivals in the first month and Crennel could be looking for work at the bye week.
So, it wouldn’t be surprising if “Charlie Frye or Derek Anderson” keeps Crennel up at night. But for now, he is delaying the decision and will flip a coin to see who starts the preseason opener vs. Kansas City.
No matter who wins the flip, Frye and Anderson will alternate series for the first half, both getting time with the first and second teams.
A standout performance from either will make Crennel’s job easier. Especially with a deadline looming.
The offensive coaches wanted to know the starter in the spring. General manager Phil Savage would like the decision after the Chiefs game. Meanwhile, Crennel remains intent on waging a fair competition — no matter how long it takes.
“Generally what happens is one guy steps above the other guy but that’s not always the case,” Crennel said. “So these guys are competing and battling it out to try and win the job.
“Both of them operate the team. I think the team has confidence in both guys, so we’ll go into the preseason and see if one of them will elevate a little bit more. And if not, I’ll decide who the guy’s going to be.”
Frye started 13 games last year and has had a better camp than Anderson. But Anderson impressed some in the front office when he filled in last year. He also has a superior arm. After a slow start to camp, Anderson looked better the last couple of practices.
“I feel I am more and more confident every single day,” Anderson said.
His first priority should be cutting down on interceptions. He finished last season by throwing four against Tampa Bay on Christmas Eve to bring his total to seven in three starts. The problem has carried into 2007, as he’s thrown well more than Frye, including one returned for a touchdown.
“Possession of the ball is big,” Anderson said. “You can’t score without the ball. That’s one of the biggest things we have been talking about, ball security and minimize the turnovers, because when you win the turnover margin you win games.”
Frye, who threw 17 interceptions last year, returned for the season finale despite a badly injured wrist. The attempt to stake his claim to the starter’s job was undermined by the front office’s infatuation with Anderson and the drafting of Brady Quinn with the 22nd pick.
However, Frye’s attitude remains unchanged. He speaks with the confidence and conviction of the starter.
“I think so, until Coach announces otherwise,” he said, when asked if it’s still his job. “I’m approaching it with confidence in myself.”
Any lead Frye took during the first two weeks of camp will quickly be erased with a poor performance tonight. Games are what count, and this is the first chance to run new coordinator Rob Chudzinski’s offense against an unfamiliar defense.
“When you take the orange jerseys off and people can hit us, it changes the game a little bit,” Frye said of the quarterbacks. “You have to make quicker decisions. You have to be able to get the ball out of bounds if nobody is open. Little things that don’t make a big difference in practice but make a huge difference in games.”
And will determine who gets to open the season Sept. 9.
“The only thing that matters is who the starter is vs. Pittsburgh,” Frye said.
No coin flip necessary.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7136 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.