Browns' Anderson silencing critics, hushing chants for Quinn

BEREA, Ohio -- Those chants for rookie quarterback Brady Quinn to play this season have gone from screams to whispers.

Derek Anderson has settled everything down for the Cleveland Browns.

Anderson has led the Browns to three straight home wins and is perhaps the biggest reason for the turnaround that has Cleveland at a surprising 3-3 heading into its bye week.

"That's very apparent when you watch the film," tight end Steve Heiden said Monday of Anderson's unexpected impact. "He's making some throws some big-time guys would make. He's doing some big-time things right now."

Anderson has completed 55 percent of his passes for 1,496 yards (sixth in the NFL) with 14 touchdowns (third), eight interceptions and an 89.0 passer rating. The Browns have averaged 32 points in his five starts, including a 41-31 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, and are third in scoring (27.8 points) behind New England and Dallas.

Not bad for a guy who lost a training camp battle with Charlie Frye and opened the year on the bench.

Anderson started three games last year for an injured Frye and the two entered the offseason in a competition for the starting job. When Anderson struggled through the preseason and failed to lead a touchdown drive in four games, Frye was named the starter for the opener against Pittsburgh.

Frye flopped, was benched in the first half of the 34-7 home loss and traded two days later in an unprecedented move.

Anderson was given the job and has run with it.

"You really didn't know how it was going to play out," coach Romeo Crennel said. "As the thing went along there was the good Derek and the bad Derek. Now, he is maturing. It's not final and we still have to go week-to-week and he still has to improve.

"But he has shown some improvement and he's put some points on the board."

Anderson was 18-for-25 for 245 yards, three touchdown passes to wide receiver Braylon Edwards, a 1-yard touchdown run and a career-best 142.5 rating against Miami. He'd put up big numbers before -- 51 points and five touchdowns in Week 2 vs. Cincinnati -- but he had never gone without an interception in seven career starts.

"Being patient, making good decisions and growing as a quarterback every week is key," Anderson said.

His growth was most evident on an incompletion Sunday. After moving the team to the Miami 3-yard line in the final minute of the first half, Anderson threw the ball out of bounds when he couldn't find an open receiver, and the Browns kicked a field goal.

In the first quarter a week earlier at New England, Anderson tried to force a pass into the end zone and was intercepted.

"You learn from those," Crennel said. "As you gain that experience, you begin to make better decisions."

The 6-foot-6 Anderson was a sixth-round draft pick by the Baltimore Ravens out of Oregon State in 2005. The Browns claimed him off waivers in September that year and he threw his first NFL pass last season, leading an overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs after Frye was hurt.

His strong arm was always evident, but that game showed Crennel and the Cleveland front office that the talent could translate to the field on Sundays.

"Until you get in the game and produce in the game, you really don't know," Crennel said. "He was able to go in, produce, bring the team back, get it into overtime and then win it in overtime. That showed me a little something there."

Anderson's unexpected success has delayed indefinitely the professional debut of Quinn, the rookie from Notre Dame who was drafted No. 22 to be the face and the future of the franchise.

Quinn was asked if it's easier to take standing on the sideline when Anderson is playing so well.

"It's easier for our team and everyone else when he plays like that," Quinn said. "You have to give him kudos for everything he's done."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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