April 16, 2014

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Browns analysis: Crennel needs to name Frye the starting QB

DENVER — End it.
End the speculation. End the redundant line of questioning that hasn’t changed since the start of training camp. End the ridiculous line of answers that has followed.
End the quarterback competition. Give the job to Charlie Frye.
In the aftermath of a 17-16 win over the Broncos in the bowels of Invesco Field at Mile High, coach Romeo Crennel wasn’t ready to take that step.
“Nothing has changed. Every week you guys ask me who won the job right after the game,” he said Saturday night. “I tell you every week I’m not deciding right after the game if anybody won the job. We’re going to evaluate and decide who starts next week.”
Next week is Thursday vs. the Bears in the preseason finale. The starter then doesn’t matter. The city, the team and, most importantly, the quarterbacks are eager to know who will run out of the tunnel Sept. 9 when the Steelers visit Cleveland Browns Stadium for the regular-season opener.
Crennel may end the suspense today when the team practices and he meets with the media. If he doesn’t, he should.
Frye hasn’t been Peyton Manning, but he’s been better than Derek Anderson this summer. Frye also has more game experience, a better presence in the huddle and more athleticism. He’s also shown better decision-making, which was supposed to be an edge for Anderson.
(Let’s eliminate rookie Brady Quinn from the discussion — for now. The team wants to proceed cautiously with him, and general manager Phil Savage said again Saturday it’s “unrealistic” to think he’ll be ready for the opener.)
Given the chance to start Saturday night vs. the Broncos, and a week to prepare, Frye led an 11-play, 80-yard drive to open the game. He converted two third downs, scrambling 13 yards on the first, then staying patient in the pocket and hitting Steve Heiden for 14 yards over the middle. Frye also made his best throw of the preseason on a fade for a 24-yard completion to Braylon Edwards.
“Charlie played well, made some nice throws, made nice decisions, played like a veteran quarterback,” Edwards said. “We were able to do a lot of what we did the first half because of it.”
“To come in against a tough defense and be able to lead an opening drive says a lot about Charlie,” Joe Jurevicius said.
Frye went 5-for-7 for 68 yards and a 102.1 rating vs. the Broncos. He struggled last week vs. the Lions but was 12-for-15 for 122 yards and a 100.6 rating in the opener vs. the Chiefs. His grasp of the new offensive system grows by the week.
The players know it, the reporters know it, Crennel knows it. Frye’s the guy to start vs. Pittsburgh.
So why wait?
“All three quarterbacks looked like they played pretty decent,” Crennel said. “Hey, that’s competition. I told you we had it. It gives you more options.”
Crennel may be dragging this out to keep the Steelers guessing and force them to prepare for two quarterbacks. If that’s the case, fine. Any edge gained might be slight, but it’s the Steelers and the only chance to potentially surprise an opponent.
If that’s Crennel’s reason — and he has made up his mind — then don’t announce a starter publicly. But he owes it to the players to tell them. The uncertainly is clearly weighing on the candidates and the rest of the offense.
Just end it.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7136 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.