Anderson keeps starting QB job for Browns this week
BEREA, Ohio -- There wasn't any satisfaction in Derek Anderson's voice and no outward display of happiness. For a guy who nearly lost his starting job, Cleveland's easygoing quarterback was seemingly unchanged.
While others were calling -- some were screaming -- for the winless Browns to bench the ineffective Pro Bowler and turn things over to popular backup Brady Quinn, Anderson had no doubt he would start this week at Cincinnati.
"There wasn't any uncertainty in my mind," Anderson said Wednesday, shortly after coach Romeo Crennel announced he was sticking with the 25-year-old -- for now.
Anderson seemed to be the only one confident he would make a fourth straight start for the Browns (0-3), whose season of immense expectations has been a colossal disappointment so far. On Monday, Crennel said he would evaluate every position and promised to make whatever changes necessary to spark his team.
By Tuesday, Crennel decided Anderson deserved another shot.
"I'm not getting into the what ifs, the whens, the wheres, how long or anything like that about this decision," Crennel said. "The decision was made and that's what it's going to be. We are going to go forward."
Crennel's choice was met with overwhelming support throughout Cleveland's locker room, where blame for the Browns' poor start is widespread.
"That's what I expected," wide receiver Braylon Edwards said. "Derek is our guy. Just because we had a bad three games, we won't turn away from him or abandon him. We have had a bad three games, not just him. We're behind him 100 percent and we're going to get better. He and I are going to work through this after practice, at home, do some extra things. We're going to get to a level where we can help this team out."
Anderson's job security slid into crisis mode following a 14-of-37 performance in a 28-10 loss at Baltimore. He threw two interceptions, the second returned for a touchdown, in a 50-second span of the third quarter when the Ravens turned a 3-point deficit into an 11-point lead.
Really, his problems date to last season, when Anderson threw eight interceptions in the final five games as the Browns blew a chance at the playoffs. This year, he has made poor decisions and been hindered by dropped passes, curious play calling and several injuries on Cleveland's offense.
Anderson's confidence has taken a major hit, but Edwards, who has dropped at least five passes, feels his teammate has taken an unfair amount of criticism.
"I just see a team that isn't playing well," he said. "I see linemen not blocking. I see receivers dropping passes. I see quarterbacks missing reads. We're all off base right now. None of us is taking the initiative to pick another guy up, but that's over with. We talked about it: one guy, two guys, 11 guys on that field have to take the initiative to make a play, to block a guy, to catch a pass that might be behind you, to make a play.
"Once we do that, it won't matter what's happening with D.A. or Braylon or what's happening with the linemen because we'll be a better football team."
Anderson has bad memories of his previous start against the Bengals. With the Browns one win from clinching a playoff spot, Anderson threw four interceptions in a 19-14 loss on Dec. 23.
"It was frustrating," he said. "But, nah, it's nothing to die from.
"Everybody's struggling, even the best struggle," Anderson said. "Brett Favre didn't have the best game Monday night. He threw picks, he had mistakes. Nobody's perfect. It's just coming back and getting it fixed."
Although Crennel has given him a reprieve, Anderson isn't guaranteed anything more than the first snap Sunday. At the initial sign of trouble, he could pulled for Quinn, who will get more repetitions with Cleveland's starting offense.
Quinn played well in spurts during the exhibition season but only appeared in the season finale as a rookie. He insists he didn't come to work on Wednesday with any thoughts he would be taking over for Anderson this week.
"I think every quarterback would say he could come in and give the team a spark," he said. "If you ask [third-string QB] Ken Dorsey the same question he'd probably feel the same way. I'm very confident in our team' abilities and I think the biggest thing right now is just to put everything together and show what we're capable of."
While Crennel endorsed Anderson for the time being, his insistence that Quinn needs to be more ready has created an air of uncertainty. On Tuesday, Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, an executive advisor for the team, said he had been in organizational meetings all day and "we all seem to be one accord." Brown added the decision was up to Crennel, and "if he makes the right decision on his lineup this week, I think we can be out of this terrible kind of depression we're in."
Crennel seemed to take exception to Brown's comments.
"Jim has been speaking out ever since I got here and Jim has an opinion, just like everybody else has an opinion, so he voices his opinion," Crennel said. "I have sat down with Jim and he told me the same thing, so there is no surprise because that is the way he feels. I am not saying its right or wrong, it is what it is.
"My decision is my decision."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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