You can breathe easier now, the Browns are off the schnide. We know how the city breathes a collective sigh of relief when the Browns actually win a game, but we also know that this relief has the shelf life of an overfed goldfish. That's why we're pretty confident that by this time most Cleveland fans are busy devaluing the victory to the point where it might as well have been a loss.
But we're not going to pile on, at least not right now. If we were, we'd be talking about how Ted "C.C." Washington is about two bisquits away from eating himself out of the league. We'd also be talking more seriously about whether Charlie Frye really has the make-up to be a top tier quarterback in the NFL. His fourth quarter interception, which the Plain Dealer labeled, in victory, laughable, hopefully isn't a laughing matter in Berea. It was so amatuerish, so college, that it makes one wonder whether Frye can really lead this team.
It's one thing to try and make things happen. It's a whole other thing to treat the game like you're on the playground. Frye obviously had no appreciation for the situation. It was second down inside the 10. He was well out of the pocket and heading for the out of bounds line. He's allowed to throw it away and not risk an intentional grounding call. He's allowed to run out of bounds and lose a few yards. Instead, he just heaves it into the middle of the end zone hoping something good would happen.
And before one says "well, you'd be singing a different song if it had worked", that's completely untrue. If, by chance, Frye had been lucky enough to complete it, we'd still question his professionalism. The Browns were on the verge of putting the game away. A field goal would have forced the league's worst offense to score a touchdown, something they had done only once this season (which happened to be earlier in the same game). That's a chance a pro would take. Frye, instead, had no concept of the situation he was in, apparently thinking he needed a touchdown, even though the Browns were up by 3 and it was late in the game and a field goal was an almost certainty.
Some may want to compare Frye's bonehead play to the seemingly desperate pass that Troy Smith of Ohio State threw to receiver Brian Robiskie last week against Penn State. In the first instance, Smith is a college quarterback. Frye is a second year pro. Second, Smith's throw wasn't nearly as risky. Robiskie was in single coverage and at the time of the pass Smith, like Robiskie, was in the center of the field. The pass was thrown on a rope and put where either Robiskie would get it or no one. Frye nearly had one foot out of bounds and threw a pass in the air hoping something good would happen. And it wasn't even a well thrown ball.
And for those of you counting at home, that's two key interceptions in the end zone for Frye in consecutive weeks. Head coach Romeo Crennel gave Frye a public pass on the interception last week, saying that Frye had been hit when he threw. But that's only a half truth. The hit did not affect that throw. It was simply a poor throw at the exact wrong time, with the game in the balance. Just like yesterday's throw. But we doubt Crennel gives Frye a pass this week. Sure, they'll laugh about it now, but it's these kinds of things that one has to look for in trying to discern whether Frye is the answer.
But again, we don't want to rain on the parade this morning so we'll reserve our comments and instead note that if you're confused about the Indians, you're not alone. We read with interest two disparate articles yesterday about ostensibly the same subject: the Tribe. In the Plain Dealer, Paul Hoynes, was ranting about where the Indians now stand. Hoynes rightly notes that:"It was easy to say the Indians were ahead of schedule last year. This year, they've been out-spent and passed by three teams in their own division. It's hard to imagine what the Tribe could do this winter to leap-frog Chicago, Minneapolis and Detroit and reach the postseason in 2007."
For beautiful contrast, we look to Sheldon Ocker, Hoynes' counterpart at the Akron Beacon Journal. Ocker took a much more measured approach, saying , basically that the Tribe doesn't need that much to get back to where they were. While there is much to pick apart in Ocker's column, we do note that Ocker has been of this view for most of the season.
At this juncture, it's hard to tell who's right, mainly because the Indians were such an enigma this year. They had four starting pitchers win at least 10 games. They hit well and scored plenty of runs. Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner emerged as superstars. That tends to support Ocker. Yet, they were 18 games back in their division, three victories away from breaking even on the season. As we've chronicled, they are being massively outspent in their own division and little hope of ever catching up. That tends to support Hoynes.
We do know this, the fans are fed up. We suspect that this is the last season that either GM Mark Shapiro or Manager Eric Wedge will get the benefit of the doubt. It should be an interesting off-season.