Q & A with The Orange and Brown Report

The Orange and Brown Report answer all your questions concerning today's matchup between Denver and the Cleveland Browns.

Q: Tell us the "skinny" on your QB - we out hear in Denver no little or nothing about him.
A: Charlie Frye is a local product, and will have Bernie Kosar-like popularity here in Cleveland if he can bring some success to this franchise. Most fans treat Frye like a rookie since he only started a handful of games for the Browns at the end of last season. He's still in the "honeymoon" phase with Cleveland fans.

While he's still learning, Frye has impressed fans and his teammates with his toughness. He's gotten bashed around a bit behind a porous offensive line, bounces back up, and doesn't complain. Frye also has terrific movement in the pocket. While he's no Michael Vick, he moves around well, and will scramble for yardage if the opportunity presents itself. He's got good chemistry with hotshot tight end Kellen Winslow, Jr, and Braylon Edwards.

Frye still needs to improve on his decision-making and pass accuracy. He's been plagued by untimely interceptions, but in his defense a number of these have been due to blown routes or passes which have gone off his receivers. He's proven to most observers that he has a decent long ball, but some doubters remain.

Frye is being given this year by the Browns coaching staff to try to take the role permanently. If he can survive the hits he's taken, the second half of this season may prove to be the defining phase of his career.

Q: I have read that your new stadium gets mixed reviews in the eyes of the hard core Brown fans. Is there a story here?
A: Part of the stadium's problem is that fans have watched a lot of terrible football games in it, starting with the opening 41-0 blowout to the Steelers in 1999. There haven't been a lot of good memories forged there, aside from an unlikely run to the playoffs in 2002.

A lot of fans feel that the atmosphere at the new stadium is a far cry from their fond memories of old Municipal Stadium. The new place feels corporate and sterile, a situation not helped by the constant barrage of advertisements, tighter security, and higher prices. The craziness of the old Dawg Pound has been reigned back since 1999.

It remains to be seen if a few years of winning football makes Cleveland Browns Stadium feel like home. To date, however, long-time Browns fans haven't warmed up to it.

Q: With all the heartache that the Browns have had to endure (The Drive, The Fumble, The Ravens) is Denver still the most hated franchise in Cleveland or is it now the Ravens? I know a lot of Cleveland fans will forever hold a grudge against the Broncos, but has the disgusting abandonment of your city by the Ravens moved them into the public enemy #1 spot?
A: In 1999 and 2000, Browns fans probably despised the Ravens more than any other team. With Art Modell essentially booted out of the league, though, the Steelers are returning to their rightful place as the #1 rival of the Browns. The Steelers have pounded the Browns a couple of times at home, including a rout against the Browns last Christmas Eve, and the close proximity of Pittsburgh puts Browns fans and Steelers fans in close quarters.

As the Browns get better, most of us expect that the Browns-Steelers rivalry will take center stage. Steelers fans have popped out of the woodwork after their Super Bowl year, and Browns fans fervently hope the team takes at least one game from the black and gold in 2006.

The rivalry with Denver has really faded over the past fifteen years, in my opinion. The Browns haven't hosted the Broncos in Cleveland in over a decade, and the Broncos aren't exactly what is keeping the Browns out of the Super Bowl.

That being said, the less Browns fans see of John Elway, and replays of the "Drive" and "Fumble", the happier they tend to be. It seems to us that ESPN Classic and others replay these games with a nauseating frequency.

Q: What is the Browns fans perception of the success that many of the ex-Browns lineman have had here in Denver?
A: Right now there is a bit of cynicism about the Browns franchise in general, with fans talking frustrated with what looks to be another losing season. So the success of the "Browncos" falls more into the "here we go again" category for many of the Browns faithful and doesn't really stand out a major concern. It's just one of many body blows for the long-suffering fans of this team.

At the same time, there's a lot of skepticism about the talent of the linemen, particularly Gerard Warren, who is viewed as a busted draft pick here. A lot of Browns fans chalk their success up to Denver's excellent secondary and linebacking corps.

Personally, Michael Myers was the player I was most frustrated to see the Browns dispense with, since he's a solid tackle and seemed to be an afterthought to that deal. There aren't many Browns fans who are dying to see Warren back in town, however.

Q: Why is Dennis Northcutt still listed as the number 2 and being lined up outside? Joe Jurevicius is much more suited for that role and he great hands. Northcutt is a prototypical slot receiver isn't he?
A: This is right on the money. Northcutt has only been successful in the slot matched up against linebackers.

Browns fans and the media were confused about why Northcutt started ahead of Jurevicius against Carolina. The fact that Northcutt bobbled a pass that led to a defensive interception and touchdown added to the irritation over his role as the #2 WR when we played the Panthers.

Northcutt, however, is ailing from bruised ribs, which will give the Browns a convenient way to promote Jurevicius to that role. This could be very important with the Broncos matching Champ Bailey up against Braylon Edwards. At 6'5", Jurevicius could post match-up problems for the Broncos, assuming that Frye will get enough time to throw.

The decision to start Northcutt as the second WR is symptomatic of odd decisions made by the coaching staff, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. The poor play of the offense, when combined with a series of strange personnel and play-calling decisions, has a majority of hard-core fans complaining about offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon and asking for his ouster.

This last week, head coach Romeo Crennel said he would play a greater role in play-calling. Crennel has been a defensive coach his entire career, however, so it's an open question how much value he will add.

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