It took Charlie Frye six weeks to win the Browns’ starting quarterback job in training camp, but fewer than two quarters to lose it Sunday afternoon.
Welcome to Cleveland, where absolutely nothing goes according to plan at the position.
Frye and Derek Anderson both played poorly in the Browns’ 34-7 season-opening loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, leaving the team without a legitimate top guy at the spot — and with yet another QB controversy.
Laughable? Oh, yes.
Funny? Absolutely not.
“Overall, it just wasn’t good today,” Anderson said. “This was not the way to start the season. We expect more from each other and we’re going to have to come out next week and be better.”
Frankly, it’s hard to imagine Frye or Anderson performing much worse because they were atrocious against Pittsburgh.
Frye directed Cleveland to seven straight scoreless series to start the game, mixing in five sacks and an interception along the way. His passer rating was a well-deserved 10.0 after going 4-for-10 for 34 yards.
“In this league, every week is like a new beginning,” said Frye, who was not referring to the Browns’ revolving door at his position. “We worked real hard for this, and to start like we did is just disappointing.”
Anderson relieved Frye with Cleveland trailing 17-0 and also got seven possessions under center. His numbers were better — 13-for-28 for 184 yards with one touchdown — but his actual performance was nearly as bad.
“D.A.” lost a fumble, threw an interception and had two other potential picks dropped by the Steelers long after the outcome was decided. He did nothing to show he deserved to start over Frye when Cincinnati comes to town next week.
“They both need to play better,” Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel said in the understatement of the century. “We have to go back and look at it and evaluate it (to see who gets the nod against the Bengals).”
Considering how badly general manager Phil Savage wanted Anderson to win the job in training camp, he could be promoted as soon as today.
Making that move would be a slap in the face to Frye, reaffirm how little the offseason means and prove just how screwed up this organization really is.
Not everyone, however, expects it to play out in this manner.
“I told Charlie, he’s my man 100 percent, regardless of the situation,” wide receiver Joe Jurevicius defiantly said. “Charlie Frye is a great quarterback and I stand behind him.”
But if Crennel and Savage decide that one half of one game is all that Frye deserves, they should forget about this season and just promote Brady Quinn.
The rookie from Notre Dame will be under center on a full-time basis in 2008, so it makes sense to speed up the process and make it happen now.
Quinn is a blue-chipper — not the second coming of Tim Couch — who is mentally ready to lead an NFL team at age 22. Having him refine his physical skills in games makes much more sense than watching Anderson audition for his next employer.
Following the 27-point loss Sunday, Crennel said he wasn’t ready to put Quinn on the field against the Steelers because they have a very aggressive defense.
The same built-in excuse won’t be available against Cincinnati, even if Crennel attempts to trot it out again.
“The only thing that matters on offense is what happens between the white lines,” Frye said matter-of-factly. “We just couldn’t get anything going and (Crennel) thought D.A. would get the offense going, and that’s his decision to make.
“I need to get better. We can get better. We’ve got 15 games left to get it done.”
Contact Brian Dulik
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