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A poor offensive performance from their starting quarterback last weekend prompted the Cleveland Browns to make significant changes at that position. They hope new No. 1 signal caller Derek Anderson and promoted backup Brady Quinn are what they need to get the season on the right track.
Seeking improved results with Anderson and Quinn set to take the majority of the snaps, the Browns renew their rivalry with the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday in Cleveland.
The Browns extended their losing streak dating to last season to five games with a season-opening 34-7 defeat to Pittsburgh at home last Sunday. The loss led Cleveland to trade starting quarterback Charlie Frye to Seattle for a sixth-round draft pick on Tuesday, giving Anderson the reins under center and moving rookie Quinn to second on the depth chart.
“This move obviously clarifies our quarterback situation,” Browns general manger Phil Savage said. “Some people think we’re doing some kind of experiment, but we’re not. We’re trying to win and unfortunately, things got derailed Sunday before it even got started.”
Frye, who edged Anderson for the starting spot, struggled against the Steelers, completing just 4 of 10 passes for 34 yards with an interception and five sacks. He was benched before halftime with the team trailing 17-0, and Anderson came in and completed 13 of 28 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown with only one sack.
“Sunday, we needed to see more production,” Savage said, “and probably the most revealing thing of everything that happened Sunday was that in his 10 attempts (actually 15), he took five sacks and in Derek’s 28 attempts (actually 29) he took one sack.”
Frye, the Browns’ third-round pick in 2005, went 6-13 as a starter and had 3,490 yards with 14 touchdowns in 21 appearances.
With Frye’s departure, Cleveland now looks to Anderson to help end the club’s woes against AFC North rival Cincinnati, which has won five straight and six of its last eight games against the Browns. The most recent Cincinnati victory - a 30-0 rout at Cleveland on Nov. 26 - was the Bengals’ only shutout last year and was the first time Cincinnati blanked an opponent since beating the Browns 21-0 on Dec. 3, 1989.
Anderson - a sixth-round pick for Baltimore in 2005 - has never faced the Bengals and will be leading an offense that managed just 221 total yards last week and scored seven points or fewer for the fourth time in five games dating to last season.
“Our job is to work with whoever is in there,” wide receiver Braylon Edwards said on the Browns’ official Web site. “Obviously, the more chemistry you have it makes it better, but we’re professionals. Those kinds of adjustments we can make.
“Whoever is named the starter, we’ll get in there and we’ll be able to work with him.”
Anderson has started just three of his six career appearances and has passed for 977 yards and six touchdowns. If he struggles, first-rounder Quinn—who began the season as the Browns’ third-string quarterback—could see the field much sooner than anticipated.
“I think there is a feeling that he’s certainly closer to being ready to play,” Savage said. “We want to be able to give him a full gamut of plays and give him a chance to have some success. I don’t know if that happens in two weeks, four weeks, six weeks.
“The important thing in the big picture is that we develop Brady Quinn in the right way. That is the most important thing that we have to do this year and that’s what we’re trying to do this year. And, win.”
Cleveland also added a third quarterback, signing Ken Dorsey to a one-year contract 10 days after cutting him.
While Cleveland is getting settled at quarterback, Cincinnati’s Carson Palmer picked up where he left off last season in the Bengals’ opener on Monday night. The four-year pro, who was fifth in the league last year with 252.2 passing yards per game, completed 20 of 32 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns in the Bengals’ 27-20 home win over Baltimore.
Cincinnati, which had the league’s third-worst defense in 2006 when it allowed 355.1 yards per game, held Baltimore to 314 and had a goal-line stand in the final seconds to preserve the win.
“The whole offense was fired up for them because everybody keeps asking about the defense,” Palmer said. “There’s a lot of question marks. I think they answered every question.”
On offense, the Bengals totaled 236 yards after averaging 341.4 last year, eighth-best in the NFL. Chad Johnson had five receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown Monday, while T.J. Houshmandzadeh made nine catches for 50 yards and also had a touchdown.
In the Nov. 26 win at Cleveland, Johnson had seven catches for 123 yards, while Palmer - seeking to go 6-1 against the Browns - completed 25 of 32 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns.