If the first game is a true indication of what is to come, this is going to be a season of growing pains for Charlie Frye in his first full season as a starting quarterback.
Frye's second lesson comes Sunday in Cincinnati when the Browns try to even their season at 1-1 against the Bengals. The quarterback on the other sideline, Carson Palmer, could serve as a model for Frye. So could Drew Brees, the quarterback the Browns faced in the season opener.
Palmer was named the Bengals' starter in his second season after spending his rookie year on the sideline watching Jon Kitna. He was 8-8 and then 11-5 in his third season. His passer rating was second in the NFL only to Peyton Manning.
Brees was named the Chargers' starter his second year. He finally blossomed in his fourth season when he threw 27 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. The Chargers were 12-4.
"There is definitely a process that a majority of the guys go through," Brees said. "I think it's very rare when a guy like Ben Roethlisberger comes out and plays as well as he did his rookie year. I think that's a rare thing. I think he had a great team behind him as well, and that helps.
"There are some things that you have to go through as a young quarterback in order to take yourself to the next level. Believe. It's all about attitude. You have to continue to believe that things will happen for you. It's not going to happen automatically. Stay confident in yourself and things will happen."
Palmer, from USC, was the first player chosen in the 2003 draft. Brees, from Purdue, was the first pick in the second round in 2001. Frye played at the University of Akron and was a third-round pick in 2005.
Frye has never been short on confidence. Even after being battered and sacked five times by the Saints he believes he and the offense will bounce back against the Bengals and have a successful season.
Frye says the difference between his understanding of the Browns offense now compared to when he was a rookie a year ago is "like night and day." Getting five starts at the end of the season was a big part of his accelerated learning.
"Everybody says it really slows down when you go into your third year," Frye said. "I've talked to a lot of guys around the league and that's what they all say. But I'm looking for it to slow down my second year."
The Browns will sink or swim with Frye this season. Browns general manager Phil Savage won't predict what kind of season Frye will ultimately have, but he likes Frye's chances.
"We feel good about Charlie," Savage said. "Arm strength -- is it enough? Yes. Enough accuracy? Yes. Toughness? Yes. Mobility? Yes. Mental ability? Yes. Work ethic? Yes. Get along with teammates? Yes. Support from the organization? Yes.
"When you factor all those things in, there is really not a reason to think he's not going to be successful. That's what we're banking on."
SERIES HISTORY: 66th meeting. The Browns lead the series 33-32. Their lead in the Battle of Ohio is precarious. The Bengals have beaten the Browns three straight times, which means Romeo Crennel is looking for his first victory over Marvin Lewis.