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Friday, November 28, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 9/13/2007

Cleveland could really be that bad

Did you by any chance see the LSU-Virginia Tech game Saturday? We ask you that question simply to set up another.

Do you think the Cleveland Browns would beat LSU? Seriously.

The Browns play the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend, and no sane soul would give them much chance at victory. But how would Cleveland, arguably the worst team in pro football, fare against the Bayou Bengals, arguably the best team in college football?

The Browns certainly are an organization with no plan. It's more like a series of audibles. How can anyone have any faith in this front office and this coaching staff?

I have no problem with Cleveland trading quarterback Charlie Frye to Seattle. Neither should Frye. He's playing now for a coach, Mike Holmgren, who knows a little bit about offense and quarterbacks. He's playing behind and learning from one of the league's smartest quarterbacks in Matt Hasselbeck. If Frye is forced into action, it will be behind a solid offensive line and with one of the best running backs in the game.

Frye wasn't going to win with the Browns. Or, if you prefer, the Browns weren't going to win with Frye. He's no more ready to be a No. 1 quarterback in the NFL than, say, Brady Quinn.

But Quinn's day will soon come, ready or not. Whether the rookie will be smothered by the bad-luck environment that permeates every aspect of this organization, or if he'll be good enough to drag the Browns out of that morass is something only time will tell.

But he could use some help. Frye never progressed a year ago because he had no one from whom to learn. Quinn is in the same situation. Who's going to help him, Derek Anderson and Ken Dorsey? Both are journeymen, at best, not accomplished pro quarterbacks.

Offensive line play remains uninspired, regardless of whom the Browns trot out there and what they pay them. Quinn won't hold the ball as long as Frye did during last Sunday's season-opening whoopin' laid on the Browns by Pittsburgh, but he'll still take plenty of physical abuse.

Romeo Crennel, the head coach, took all of training camp to identify Frye as the starter, then pulled him before halftime of the opener and traded him two days later. That's not action; that's reaction. This is a team, a franchise, with no firm foundation.

Cleveland will go with Anderson in the short term. But at some not-too-distant point Quinn will get the call. Unlike Carson Palmer or Tom Brady, he won't get what he so desperately needs - time to be the understudy, time to learn and grow. Remember, for every Ben Roethlisberger who catches quick-fix lightning in a bottle, the NFL spits out lots of David Carrs and Tim Couches and Joey Harringtons.

Quinn has plenty of talent. But the Browns' approach to handling not-ready-for-prime-time quarterbacks has failed to produce anything positive. And if the same thing happens with Quinn, and if this season, like the past couple, spins out of control, then the general manager and the coach had better whip their resumes into shape because there's a guy named Bill Cowher, should he be itchy and desperate and not too enamored of the New York Giants job, sitting there inside your TV set with nothing better to do than take owner Randy Lerner's megabucks to fill both roles.

The sooner the better, I say.

Why?

Because, NFL bravado aside, you don't honestly know if Cleveland would beat LSU, do you? And that's all you need to know about the Browns.



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