There are many conclusions you could probably draw from yesterday's Cleveland Browns/San Diego Chargers game, but the one we'll stick with is that the Browns better start looking for another quarterback, quickly.
It's not that we're necessarily down on Charlie Frye, although we are, it's just that he can't possibly survive this season in tact. Just looking at the official statistics, he's been sacked an astounding 29 times in 8 games. That translates to 58 times over the season, a figure he'll never reach because, again, he can't possibly survive this season in tact. And the 29 sacks doesn't even begin to measure how many times he's been knocked down and thrown about, which is probably double the sack total.
Frye is big and strong and seems to move around well. But he makes incredibly poor decisions each and every game, which is contributing to the abuse he's taking. We understand that the Browns have a poor offensive line. But this poor line is only part of the problem. While Frye has been sacked 29 times in 8 starts this year, he also was sacked another 21 times in 5 starts last year. Meanwhile, Reuben Droughns was on his way to rushing for 1200 yards last year, meaning it's not the worst line of all time. If anything, the Browns relative ability to run the ball last year should have resulted in less pressure on Frye, not more. Yet his sack total last year is nearly identical to what he's suffering from this year. And this year the running game has been much worse.
We've noted before that we understand why GM Phil Savage didn't sign a big-name back-up. Given the limited expectations of this year's team, there seemed to be little reason to saddle Frye with fans screaming for his back-up as Frye himself continued to founder. In theory, this makes sense. In reality, it's played out much worse then anyone could have expected.
To the extent that Frye is progressing, it's imperceptible to the naked eye. He continues to fumble and throw interceptions. He still can't seem to look beyond, at best, the second option on most pass plays. He has an unwarranted confidence in his own ability to make a play with his feet despite very limited success in that regard.
We're not burying poor, beaten Charlie yet. But at this point it's in the conversation. The Browns have significant holes to fill in the off season. It appears that quarterback will have to be added to this list, if only because the likelihood rises each week that a career-threatening injury to Frye is just around the corner. Ken Dorsey, make sure you can find your helmet.
We've had many ask us how the Browns could possibly give Joshua Cribbs a six-year contract. While we agree that he's shown some skills as a kick returner, his abilities as a receiver are rudimentary, at best, and were on full display yesterday. And while a six-year contract tends to show a very odd and lengthy commitment, even for the Browns, recognize that it is solely a function of how the salary cap works. We don't yet have the details on Cribbs' contract, but you can bet that there is a signing bonus involved. As such, the Browns can pro-rate the bonus over the life of the contract, thus reducing the salary cap impact. If/when Cribbs gets cut in a year or two, the bonus will then get accelerated. But until then, the contract, which is NOT guaranteed, nonetheless gives Cribbs the perception of security while allowing the Browns salary cap flexibility. That's it.
In all of this discussion about Frye, don't lose site of two points that were even more apparent yesterday. First, the Browns simply wore down during the game. The outcome was inevitable. San Diego, a good but not great team, was physically better and stronger. The point, though, is that the Browns have a long way to go to even get to the level of the Chargers. Which leads us to the second point. If the Browns aren't even near the level of the Chargers, how far behind must they be of the New England Patriots or the Indianapolis Colts? To paraphrase Robert Shaw's character Quint in the movie Jaws, you're gonna need a bigger yard stick to measure that one.