At least a dozen times during the Browns loss to the Chargers, it seemed, CBS color commentator Steve Tasker took quarterback Charlie Frye to task for "locking on" to receivers. It was a theme drilled into viewer's heads on multiple occasions.
Chargers linebacker Donnie Edwards told both Tasker and play-by-play man Gus Johnson the Saturday before the game that they were looking forward to facing Frye because he stares down receivers. Tasker noted that the defense was not looking to play the Browns receivers, but instead were watching Frye and "going where his eyes take them".
For his part, head coach Romeo Crennel did nothing to discredit Tasker's observations nor the San Diego defense's assessment of his young QB.
"In some cases, that did happen. One in particular: Kellen (Winslow Jr.) was inside and he looked at Kellen the whole way, and two linebackers broke on the ball. That did happen once or twice," Crennel said.
"He has to learn that he can't force a ball to a guy. He has to read the progression and take what the defense gives him."
And for those who think this is some new phenomena regarding Frye, think again. A few days before the Browns faced the Ravens earlier this season, linebacker Ray Lewis talked in general about a young QB struggling to see the whole field and sometimes "staring a receiver down".
Lewis' comments came the week after facing Oakland's Andrew Walter and the Sunday before going up against Frye.
To his credit, Crennel doled out praise for Frye in addition to concurring with some of negatives that came out of the game.
"He has good talent, good leadership ability, toughness and the guys rally around him," Crennel said. "Not everyone has John Elway's arm. Not everyone has Peyton Manning's ability to read defenses and make checks. There are 32 quarterbacks in the NFL. A guy can be successful if they have those intangibles, and he's got some of them... I think going forward, we'll see that he's a capable quarterback."
And that's the thing. That's exactly what Crennel and general manager Phil Savage want Frye to be: capable.
They don't need him to be Favre or Manning or Brady. They need him, as the off-season buzz phrase went, to manage the game.
Unfortunately, thirteen starts into his NFL career, he's falling far short of even that rather modest goal.
Perhaps the biggest news coming out of Crennel's Monday press conference was the coach strongly hinting that the return of offensive tackle Ryan Tucker could come sooner rather than later.
Tucker has missed the past two games due to an undisclosed illness, with the shroud of secrecy surrounding the "mystery malady" leading to rumors ranging from Tucker being near death to being abducted by extraterrestrials. WTAM in Cleveland even reported two weeks ago that Tucker would likely miss the rest of the season.
That being said, Crennel sounded guardedly optimistic that his veteran lineman could be returning to the field--at least the practice portion of the field--soon.
"Ryan (was going to see the doctor again (Monday)," Crennel said. "We're hopeful that he'll be back in the building this week and we'll see what he can do."
Tucker's replacement, Kelly Butler, has played fairly well, save for one stretch during the second quarter of Sunday's loss.
While Ladainian Tomlinson reeled off many highlight runs during the game Sunday, his personal highlight list might be topped by a chance encounter before the contest.
As Tomlinson was leaving the locker room at Qualcomm Stadium, the Pro Bowl running back almost ran into and over Hall of Famer and Browns executive advisor Jim Brown. Needless to say, having never met one of his idols before, Tomlinson was in awe.
"It was almost kind of like stunning seeing him there," Tomlinson said. "I was thinking to myself, 'My goodness, that's Jim Brown.' I've never met him before, so the first thing I do is go over to shake his hand just to say, 'Hey, you inspired me to be a runner.'"
FAST FACT: Frye's 69.2 passer rating is good enough for 29th in the NFL. There are 32 teams in the league.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I think yesterday was probably one of my most memorable Sundays. Not only because of the yards but how we came back, you know, struggling a little bit, staying the course in the game, and also the first time I've ever met Jim Brown. I will never forget the moment."--Chargers running back Ladainian Tomlinson.