September 17, 2014

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Dan Coughlin: Indecision still following bungling Browns

It was a nice story for a while. The local boy gets drafted by his hometown team. Everyone has high hopes and then the dreamscape goes to hell.
It turns out that the “competition” between Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson in training camp was a fraud. Phil Savage acknowledged that he has been trying to trade Charlie since April 28 when the Browns drafted Brady Quinn. The decision had been made. Savage maintained low key communication with potential customers.
“Obviously, we didn’t advertise that,” Savage said on Tuesday.
The Browns wanted to salvage something for Frye and what they got from Seattle was a sixth-round draft choice, perpetuating the Browns’ policy of drafting high and trading low. The Browns picked Frye in the third round of the 2005 draft.
“Everyone knew one quarterback would be spun off,” Savage said on Monday. “We could only get two quarterbacks ready to play.”
From what I saw in training camp and the preseason games, the Browns’ best quarterback was Ken Dorsey and the second-best was Brady Quinn. At the end of camp, I would have thanked Charlie and Derek for their services and wished them well in their future pursuits. Dorsey would have been my starter with Quinn in reserve. (Keep in mind that I’m the guy who voted for Akili Smith back in 1999.)
But no, the Browns spent the entire preseason getting Frye and Anderson ready to play — all the time planning to trade Frye. Maybe starting Charlie in three of the four preseason games was just an advertising ploy. They were showcasing him. After Sunday’s game, it is remarkable that Savage found a taker.
Everything Charlie did in training camp and four preseason games — which wasn’t much — went down the drain In less than 20 minutes of Sunday’s opening-game loss to Pittsburgh. Charlie was 4-of-10 passing and was sacked five times, which means that out of 15 passing plays he completed only four for 34 yards.
Anderson took over with almost seven minutes left in the second quarter and was 13-of-28 for 184 yards and one touchdown the rest of the game. He was sacked only once.
Savage made a point of mentioning those statistics on Monday. It was the story of Charlie’s career here. Everyone knows he holds onto the ball too long. Courageously taking the sacks doesn’t earn you any medals. All it means is third-and-long. For Charlie today, it means a long flight to Seattle as the Seahawks’ third stringer.
This is the ninth season since the Browns’ rebirth and we’ve gone through four head coaches, at least three general managers and now seven starting quarterbacks, if you include Doug Pederson. And Brady Quinn will be the eighth when he takes over before the end of the season.
Indecision and impatience is nothing new for the Browns. In the last four years of Bill Belichick’s dismal regime in the early 1990’s he tried six different starting quarterbacks.
After all this, let’s look at the bright side. Think how bad the Browns offense would have been if they hadn’t unveiled Rob Chudzinski’s new offense.
Contact Dan Coughlin at 329-7137 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.