Thoughts, notes, questions and suggestions as the Cleveland Browns prepare for the "dress rehearsal" portion of the exihibition schedule.
And by "dress rehearsal", we mean "the continuation of the ongoing Chinese Fire Drill at the quarterback position".
- For the love of all that's good and holy, can we please--finally--see an end to the "hotly-contested" "quarterback" "competition"? It would be a relief for all involved--Romeo Crennel, his staff, the players, the fans--if one of either Charlie Frye or Derek Anderson reaches out and plays his way into the job tonight against the Broncos. A solid performance from either of the two, particularly from Frye as he's currently holding a slight edge, would be the best thing to happen to both the coaching staff and the front office.
- However, if there is a repeat of last week, with Frye and Anderson spitting the bed and rookie Brady Quinn dazzling versus stiffer competition, all hell will break loose this week. The firestorm of calls to sportstalk radio shows and posts on internet message boards from the last few days will look like a passing shower compared to the hurricane of "Brady! Brady! Brady!" chants we'd hear this week. And, once again, that's the very last thing this organization wants or needs.
- Still, even with the potential for a more explosive QB brouhaha, the Browns need to get Quinn some time with at least the first-team offensive line against better competition from the opposition. There are not a lot of aspects of the QB competition that have been clear, but one that has been is this: Quinn, even given his holdout, has improved more rapidly than the Browns ever fathomed, and it's patently obvious that he will indeed assume the starting job sooner rather than later. He's earned more reps, even if it's a direct result of both QB's not earning a greater share of them. And even if it's at the expense of one of the two. And by "one of the two" we mean "you, Mr. Anderson".
- Here's a piece of unsolicited advice, aimed at both the Browns--who are, to their credit, seemingly taking this tack--and the fans: Regardless of what happens tonight, let Quinn's development--not the sorry state of the position--determine when he starts. Trust me, in this case, it's better to pull the trigger too late rather than too soon.
- Four beers into this twelve-pack and nary a mention of anything but the quarterback position. That's either an indictment of the current cast vying for the job, or a sad sign of my ability to come up with topics. Or both.
- Will we see new offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski sprinkle a few crushed walnuts on top of the rather vanilla offense we've seen thus far, or will we get the same nutless attack that's been served up for the last eight years? Obviously, you don't want to give away the lion's share of your playbook during meaningless exhibition games, but I would think there are certain things that could be worked in that wouldn't compromise whatever advantage keeping the new offense under wraps offers. Like stretching the defense on either sideline, or with Kellen Winslow down the middle. Something, anything.
- Then again, it could just be that the two QBs who are receiving the majority of preseason playing time are the ones throttling Chud's imagination. And, once again, we are right back to the quarterback position. For better or worse, it seems, the fortunes of the 2007 edition of the Cleveland Browns will rise and fall with the play at that critical position. Judging by their play of the last two games and last season, I'm thinking that we'll see more "up and down"--with specific emphasis on the "down"--than a Jenna Jameson feature flick.
- There will be two rounds of roster cuts over the next week-and-a-half, so, obviously, this is a very important night for several players, probably none more than Chris Barclay. The NFL Europa and Wake Forest product has raised some eyebrows in Berea with his preseason play, and is putting pressure on Jerome Harrison and making his case that it should be he, not Harrison, who should be the third-down running back. With another solid performance tonight, coupled with his outstanding special teams ability, Barclay could come close to locking up a roster spot.
- Lost in all of the quarterbacking nonsense has been the inability of either Josh Cribbs or Travis Wilson to step-up their game. Given the absence of Tim Carter due to a variety of injuries, they have been given a prime opportunity to state their case as the third/fourth receiver in this offense. However, the less-than-dynamic duo--Wilson in particular--have both literally and figuratively dropped the ball. Cribbs was given a healthy five-year contract extension last year; Wilson was a third-round pick in 2006 and the self-described "best WR in draft". It's time for both to justify the lofty position they hold within the Browns heirarchy. And in their own minds.
- Like I wrote last week, Andra Davis--who will miss yet another game with an ankle injury--needs to get well and get well soon. That object in his mirror--Leon Williams--is closer than it appears. The physically-gifted Williams has already earned the opportunity to possibly be part of a three-man rotation at the inside linebacker position. With continued performances like he's turned in the last two weeks, he could be in line for more. Much more. And at the expense of either Davis or D'Qwell Jackson.
- Could we just see a respectable first-half performance tonight? Is that humanly possible? And I'm not talking "Greatest Show On Turf" impersonations here either. Just a touchdown from the first-team offense. That's all. Maybe move the ball efficiently a little as well. I'm quite certain that, for most other teams, that's not asking too much. Let it be the case with the Browns, starting in the first thirty minutes of this late-evening tilt.
- Today's twelve-pack will technically be only an eleven-pack as I drank one on the way home from the drive-thru. I apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may have caused.
LAST CALL: Broncos 31, Browns 17. Charlie Frye does juuust enough to officially secure the starting job and stave off another round of Bradymania. Until The Chuckster throws his first regular-season incompletion, that is. And, at some point in the next two weeks, Radio Roger Brown will have a Derek Anderson-related real estate note in his still-superb--chuckle--Sunday "column"..