November 27, 2014

Elyria
Flurries
32°F
test

Browns facing a quarterback quandary

BEREA — The chants for Brady Quinn started Sunday in the second quarter and grew louder with each sack, fumble and interception by Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson.
Those cries resonated Monday at Browns headquarters after a 34-7 loss to the Steelers started the season in the worst possible way. The quarterback position was a hot topic in internal meetings, but coach Romeo Crennel refused to announce his starter for Sunday against Cincinnati.
“There’s a plan, I’m just not letting you guys know yet,” Crennel told the media at a noon news conference.
Crennel didn’t rule out Quinn as the starter, and the speculation grew when quarterback Ken Dorsey arrived at team headquarters Monday night. Dorsey, who was cut Sept. 1, was a mentor and friend to Quinn, who lobbied at the time for the Browns to bring him back.
No roster move was announced, but Dorsey could be signed today. To make room the Browns could release Frye or Anderson, or cut someone else and go with four quarterbacks for awhile. New punter Paul Ernster would be an easy choice.
Dorsey’s return would signal the team’s desire to accelerate Quinn’s timetable — even if it doesn’t mean a start this week. The Browns entered the season with the plan of bringing Quinn along slowly and erring on the side of caution. Once the switch is made, general manager Phil Savage said, “There’s no turning back.”
A blowout loss to the Steelers and the dismal play of Frye and Anderson forced the plan to be re-examined. Crennel was asked if he still would rather not rush Quinn.
“Basically, yes,” said Crennel, who became annoyed when pressed on the issue. “I said I wasn’t making personnel decisions today. For me to make a comment about where I think Brady is or where he is on the depth chart, that’s making a personnel decision, so I’m not going to do that today.”
Crennel conceded Quinn was part of the conversation.
“Every player on my team is part of the discussions. They have to be,” he said.
Quinn is still trying to catch up after missing 16 practices in an 11-day holdout. He’s taken hundreds fewer repetitions with the starters than Frye and Anderson have, and the early portion of the schedule isn’t quarterback-friendly.
The Steelers ranked ninth last year defensively, the Raiders third, Ravens first, Patriots sixth and Dolphins fourth. The only breather is this week vs. the Bengals, who ranked 30th. If the Browns don’t make the move now, they may be forced to wait until the bye week after the sixth game.
“Our whole thought was Charlie and Derek keeping us functional through the tough part of our schedule,” Savage told Peter King in a story on si.com. “If you ask 70,000 people in our stadium (Sunday), the process got accelerated. I think you run into trouble if you change your plans after one game.”
Savage used the switch from Ty Detmer to rookie Tim Couch after the 43-0 loss to the Steelers in the 1999 expansion debut as a cautionary tale. So the Browns may elect to strap Quinn to the sideline, increase his time with the first team during practice and hope Frye and/or Anderson can cut down on the mistakes.
Is Quinn ready?
“You have to ask Brady that,” tight end Steve Heiden said. “From what I’ve seen, I think he is.
“There will be no rash decisions. If Brady plays, he’s the best quarterback for this team. I guarantee you that.”
If Quinn doesn’t start Sunday, the Browns have three choices.
Give Frye another start, despite a 4-for-10, one-interception performance that got him yanked in the second quarter. Crennel was asked whether it would be difficult to go back to Frye.
“I’m not going to say that right now because any player can have a bad game,” he said. “During the week, he might be better and you could go with him the next week. He’s a football player and if I put him out there, I expect him to do the best he can.”
Start Anderson, who was 13-for-28 for 184 yards, an interception and a fumble in relief. Anderson gets rid of the ball sooner than Frye does, but often it heads toward the defense. He had at least two interceptions dropped Sunday.
Make Dorsey the starter until Quinn is ready. That seems unlikely, but anything’s possible in Browns Town.
“Whoever will be named the starter, we’ll be able to work with him,” receiver Braylon Edwards said.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.