The Browns, striving for continuity under general manager Phil Savage and coach Romeo Crennel, not only changed quarterbacks in the second quarter of the opener, but they also shipped the opening-day starter as far from Cleveland as they could in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks.
Derek Anderson will start against the Bengals Sunday in Cleveland Browns Stadium. Charlie Frye started against the Steelers in the opener and was benched after completing four of 10 passes for 34 yards. He threw an interception, was sacked five times and had a passer rating of 10.0.
On Tuesday, the Browns traded Frye to Seattle for a sixth-round draft choice in 2008. It is unfair to Savage to say Frye was traded because of one bad game, but that opening debacle did weigh in the decision. Frye, the hand-picked starter for 2006 after being drafted in the third round in 2005, failed last season. He was 4-9 as a starter on a team that finished 4-12.
Anderson was 0-3 as a starter last year. He turned the ball over twice against the Steelers. He threw eight interceptions in his brief time as a starter last year. Brady Quinn is second on the depth chart.
Anderson's best game last season was in relief. Frye suffered a wrist injury in the first half of the game against Kansas City Dec. 3. Anderson took over and completed 12 of 21 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw an interception. He brought the Browns back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime, but his most memorable play was a 33-yard scramble in overtime to set up a game-winning field goal by Phil Dawson.
Anderson was 21 of 37 for 276 yards with one touchdown and one interception the next week against Pittsburgh. He actually played better than his statistics reflect in the 27-7 loss.
He started against the Ravens and the Buccaneers before Frye recovered enough to play in the final game.
Anderson threw four interceptions in a 22-7 loss to Tampa Bay. Still, he showed enough to go head-to-head with Frye in a quarterback competition that started in the offseason. Anderson was ahead by the start of training camp but played so poorly Crennel gave the job to Frye.
"I expect him to play the way he played against Kansas City when we put him in the game last year," Crennel said. "He did win that game for us. The following week against a tough Pittsburgh team, he started off really good with his reads and delivering the ball. We didn't help him any because we did drop a ton of balls. I did tell him this morning that that's what I expect out of him."
While most of the focus from the Steelers game was on the inept play of Frye and Anderson, the secondary was just as culpable in the defeat, and that has to be a major concern as the Browns prepare to face Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
The Browns gave up four passing touchdowns to the Steelers. Free safety Brodney Pool did not make a tackle. He will have to play better for the Browns to stay with the Bengals.
SERIES HISTORY: 68th meeting. Bengals lead series, 34-33. The Bengals have beaten the Browns five straight times. This 'Battle of Ohio' transcends a border on a map. When the Bengals were an expansion team in 1968, the Art Modell-Paul Brown feud dominated the series. That faded in time, then in 1999 when the Browns had the first pick in the draft and the Bengals the third pick it became Tim Couch vs. Akili Smith. That also faded as both quarterbacks faded from the NFL landscape. Now it's about two franchises headed in opposite directions.
--The last time the Bengals were in Cleveland was Nov. 26 of last year. The Browns were crushed 30-0. The lingering memory is of Braylon Edwards grabbing Charlie Frye by the jersey on the sideline and shouting at him. That won't happen Sunday.
--The last NFL game Butch Davis coached was against the Bengals. The Browns lost 58-48 in Cincinnati on Nov. 28, 2004. Davis resigned the next day.
--Not much has gone right for the Browns against the Bengals, but they might be able to cling to this: Rudi Johnson rushed for 145 yards on 26 carries when the Bengals had their way 34-17 in Cincinnati last year. Nine games later, he was held to 64 yards on 25 carries in the 30-0 game.
--The Browns' practice facility is in a residential neighborhood in Berea, Ohio. A fence covered in a green mesh surrounds it. The Browns have doubled the height of the fence to 16 feet to keep out prying eyes.
--Left guard Eric Steinbach played for the Bengals the first four years of his career. He signed a seven-year $49.5 million contract in the offseason. At the time, it made him the highest-paid guard in the league.
--The Bengals apparently learn by their mistakes. Edwards caught four passes for 110 yards in the game in Cincinnati. One was for 75 yards, but the play did not result in a touchdown. Edwards caught two passes for 26 yards in the rematch.
--Eric Zeier set a Browns rookie record when he passed for 305 yards in a game against the Bengals on Nov. 5, 1995. The next day, Art Modell announced he was moving the franchise to Baltimore in 1996.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- The number of games Romeo Crennel has won in the AFC North in 13 tries.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think we maximized what we had in terms of the four quarterbacks who were here. We got a guy (Derek Anderson) who started some games in the league, who has a big arm, who showed some potential. We have a future 'franchise' quarterback (Brady Quinn). We have the veteran mentor (Ken Dorsey) and we have a sixth-round pick for Charlie Frye)." -- Browns general manager Phil Savage, on trading Charlie Frye.
Browns Report: Frye Not the Only Issue
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