Browns Notes: 1/17/07

Could municipal ties and familiarity bring JaMarcus from the Deep South to the North Coast?




INSIDE SLANT

During a speech in front of a group of Browns Backers last May, Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage talked about moxie and toughness and other intangibles he believes make Charlie Frye a successful quarterback.

Savage jokingly said if he has misread Frye, somebody else would be speaking to the Browns Backers in 2008.

The best that can said is that Frye's 2006 season, his first as a starter, was inconclusive. Frye finished the season ranked 27th among NFL quarterbacks who played a minimum of 10 games. There are serious concerns, none greater than his tendency to throw interceptions inside the 20-yard line. Still, it is fair to wonder what Frye would do in a different offense.

Jeff Garcia is the best example of what being in the right offense can do for a quarterback. If he played for the Browns in 2004 as he is playing for the Eagles now, he would still be the Browns quarterback and Butch Davis would still be the head coach. Garcia squawked about how ill-fitted the offense was to his short, quick passing skills.

Frye won't complain about anything. He says what he learned this year will make him better in 2007.

"It's really going to be an important offseason for me," Frye said recently. "Now you can't talk about the inexperience factor anymore. Now I have a year under my belt, and I want to grow more, not so much physically, but mentally.

"I'll be able to take a lot into next year knowing what to expect. I look at this as my offense. I take some of the responsibility for some of the things that happened this year. We all need to get better. I think I can win. I know I can win. We just need more pieces and to get some of the problems we had this year fixed. I think we'll all have success."

Without mentioning them by name, Frye said he will be better next year handling the strong personalities of Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow Jr. Frye, Edwards and Winslow are all young, but Edwards and Winslow are the brash first-round picks from Michigan and Miami. Frye is a country boy third-round pick from Akron. Edwards, especially, gets in a quarterback's ear.

"I think I have a lot more pull, now that I have a full year under my belt, not just five games," Frye said. "That's my personality, too. I want to do it the right way, and I want the guys to do it the right way. I'm definitely going to take a firmer stand on that."

Coach Romeo Crennel supports Frye, but he says Derek Anderson will be part of a quarterback competition in training camp. An experienced player could be part of the equation as a possible starter, not just as a mentor for Frye.

Frye suffered a wrist injury in the 13th game. He missed the next three but returned to start the last game. He failed to get the Browns into the end zone against the Texans.

NOTES, QUOTES

--A quirk in the schedule will have the Browns playing the Raiders in Oakland in 2007 for the third consecutive year.

--Browns general manager Phil Savage knows a lot about JaMarcus Russell, the LSU quarterback who decided to skip his senior year. Savage and Russell are both from Mobile, Ala., and while in junior high, Russell attended a football camp Savage conducted.

--LB Chaun Thompson has one year left on the five-year contract he signed as a rookie in 2003. On the surface it looks as if there is no room for him, especially with the emergence of fourth-round draft choice Leon Williams late in the season, but Thompson is versatile enough to play any of the four linebacker spots in the 3-4 defense. Coach Romeo Crennel said he is trying to find the right spot for Thompson.

--The second day of the 2005 draft can officially be declared a bust for the Browns. The sum total production in 2006 from those five picks -- CB Antonio Perkins, LB David McMillan, LB Nick Speegle, OL Andrew Hoffman (converted from defensive lineman) and OT Jonathan Dunn -- was one tackle by McMillan.

--OL Joe Andruzzi's knees gave out in the end, but as the left guard in 2005 and 2006, he has the distinction of being the first Browns player to start at that position in back-to-back seasons since Larry Williams in 1987 and 1988.

--The Browns are looking ahead to their ninth draft since being an expansion team in 1999. The only years they did not draft in the top 10 were 2002, when they took RB William Green 16th, and 2003, when they drafted C Jeff Faine 21st. They will pick third or fourth this year, pending a coin flip with Tampa Bay.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We need a leader, somebody who is going to take the bull by the horns and say, 'This is what we are going to do, and this is how we need to get all of the players on the same page.' The innovativeness to manage Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow, Joe Jurevicius, the quarterbacks and the running backs is going to be a requirement of the job." -- Browns general manager Phil Savage on what the Browns need from an offensive coordinator.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

COACHING CAROUSEL: Terry Robiskie was fired as wide receivers coach less than a week after the Browns finished the 2006 with a 4-12 record. Robiskie was made the fall guy for failing to keep a leash on Braylon Edwards, the second-year receiver from Michigan who caused numerous distractions during the season.

Most notably, against the advice of coaches and teammates, Edwards chartered a helicopter to fly him to Columbus so he could see the Ohio State-Michigan game in person Nov. 18. He got back to Cleveland later than planned and was late for a team meeting the night before the Browns played the Steelers. Edwards was late for meetings before the Browns played Tampa Bay and was benched for it.

Strength coach John Lott, tight ends coach Ben Coates and offensive quality control coach Carl Crennel II, Romeo Crennel's nephew, also were fired.

FREE AGENT UPDATE: One thing is certain for the 4-12 Browns; no franchise player exists among the free agents to be. The contracts for wide receiver/punt returner Dennis Northcutt, center Hank Fraley, defensive end Alvin McKinley, safety Brian Russell and offensive lineman Cosey Coleman expire this year.

Getting Fraley under contract is important because of the uncertainty of LeCharles Bentley, who is recovering from a torn patellar tendon. Bentley is vague about his chances of playing next season.

Coach Romeo Crennel wants Russell back. Russell is not as fast as the other three safeties, but he makes up with wisdom what he lacks in speed.

FEELING A DRAFT: The Browns will draft third or fourth, pending a coin flip with the Buccaneers. The Browns would love it if Wisconsin left tackle Joe Thomas is available when they pick. Shoring up both lines has to be a priority. If they do enough in free agency to fix the line they could use their first pick on Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson or Michigan defensive tackle Alan Branch.

TEAM NEEDS

Guard: The Browns need two starting guards. Joe Andruzzi gave it his all in 2006 but it was not enough and Cosey Coleman won't be re-signed. Eric Steinbach would be a perfect fit.

Defensive end: Both ends need to be replaced. Linebacker Kamerion Wimbley had 11 sacks with no help in front of him.

Cornerback: Gary Baxter is determined to be the first player to come back in one year from twin patellar tendon tears. The Browns need a starter in case he fails.

MEDICAL WATCH: Guard's Joe Andruzzi and Cosey Coleman will have 'clean out' surgery on their knees.

--Linebacker Matt Stewart needs surgery on a finger injured late in the season.

--Tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. will have surgery to remove scar tissue from his right knee. He said he will do his rehab in Miami.

--Quarterback Derek Anderson is recovering from a separated shoulder. At this point surgery is not required.



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