Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The End of the Frye Era

Oh Charlie....What a ride it's been. Remember a short three drafts ago, Browns GM Phil Savage drafted his "QB of the future" Charlie Frye in the third round? Scouts and experts weren't crazy about his arm strength, but LOVED his mental toughness, smarts, and mobility. As 2005 starter Trent Dilfer struggled out of the gate, Browns fans chanted "Charlie! Charlie! Charlie!" They wanted to see the kid from Willard, Ohio who grew up a Browns fan idolizing Bernie Kosar (is this sounding familiar to you?). On December 4th, 2005, Frye got his first start in Jacksonville and was a very solid 13-20 for 226 yards and 2 TD's. The organization had its man. Or did they?

He was named the starter from Day one for the 2006 season, but with no veteran to mentor him, Frye regressed. In 13 starts, he threw 17 INT's compared to just 10 TD's. His decision making, supposedly his strength, made us all scratch our heads. He too often tried to make plays with his legs, thinking he was in the MAC conference and not the NFL. Fast forward to the 2007 draft and the Browns were trading their 2008 first round pick (which could end up being the #1 pick) to grab Brady Quinn. Quinn the new savior, while Frye became an afterthought.

But the Browns didn't want Quinn to play right away, so Frye and Derek Anderson were to battle for the starting job in 2007, to keep the seat warm for the Notre Dame phenom. While Quinn held out, eventually signed and lit it up during his preseason games, the Browns clearly wanted Anderson to win the job. Ah, the best laid plans... Anderson played so poorly that Frye beat him out for the opening day starter job, essentially by default.

We all know what happened Sunday - Frye was so bad he was yanked midway through the second quarter. Anderson was average but at least showed his strong arm off. The crowd spent 3 and a half quarters chanting "Brady! Brady!" I spent Monday listening and reading national reviews of the Browns performance. Abysmal and pathetic were too often used in those accounts. By Tuesday afternoon, rumors swirled that Frye was going to be released. Fortunately for the Browns, the found a trade partner and sent Frye to Seattle reportedly for a sixth round pick.

So Frye goes from Golden Boy to starter, to afterthought, back to starter, to traded in two and a half years. Charlie was a good soldier here, never complained when Quinn was drafted and never said a word to the media about being booed constantly over the last half of last season and the first quarter and a half of this season. There is only one man to blame for this - Phil Savage. Allowing Frye to dangle last season with no veteran QB on the roster was a disservice to both Frye and the rest of the team. He didn't learn his lesson this offseason either. With the free agent pool chock full of veterans such as Daunte Cullpepper, Kerry Collins, Aaron Brooks, Byron Leftwich (recently), and Trent Green available for trade, Savage instead went to camp with only Ken Dorsey to mentor Frye, Anderson, and Quinn. Dorsey isn't exactly a veteran with a lot of game experience. Frye's 18 starts (going into this year) almost double Dorsey's 10. There was ZERO contingency plan in place. Essentially for the last two years, the Browns have had four QB's:

Anderson - a Sixth round pick of the Ravens (who have a serious eye for talent, let him go while keep bust Kyle Boller) in 2005, claimed on waivers.

Frye - a Third round pick of the Browns from Akron with a popcorn arm who flamed miserably last year.

Dorsey - a Seventh round pick of the 49ers (there are only seven rounds in the NFL draft) whose arm makes Frye's look like John Elway's, acquired via trade for Trent Dilfer in 2006.

Quinn - a First round pick whom the Browns have mortgage their future on; trading next year's #1 to get him.

Not exactly Montana and Young in the 80's in San Francisco. Rumors are that the worst owner in the NFL, Randy Lerner, was so upset during the first half that he demanded Savage get rid of Frye. Whether that is true or not is debatable. What isn't up for debate is the lack of direction of the current administration. This is now essentially regime #3 since 1999. In a league where parity is king and it seems that every team can turn it around in a year or two, the Browns continue to flounder and are the laughingstock of the league. There's one constant; RANDY LERNER. He's clueless, Savage and Crennel seem to be in over their heads, and the fans are still selling out the Stadium week in and week out, starving for a something to cheer for. I've seen this all before; it doesn't end well. Luckily for Frye, he is out of this black hole and can carry a clipboard for a Super Bowl contender.

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