The Cleveland Browns moved into their future when they hired Romeo Crennel as the team's head coach last winter. Will the Browns move into their future at quarterback this Sunday against the Jaguars?
At 4-7, the Browns are playing for nothing more than pride, and that has Cleveland fans calling for rookie Charlie Frye to replace veteran Trent Dilfer at quarterback. The fans want Crennel to use the final month of the season as an audition for Frye, a third-round pick from Akron and the latest in a long line of Mid-American Conference quarterbacks.
"He (Frye) might get more action and the reason being is that Dilfer is a little banged up," said Crennel, who kept Dilfer out of Wednesday's practice and increased Frye's repetitions. "As a precaution, we'll get Charlie a lot of work this week," Crennel said.
Dilfer might give the Browns the best chance of upsetting the Jaguars, but Dilfer is clearly a stop-gap player and will give way to a young quarterback in whom the Browns will invest their future. That could happen as early as this Sunday.
"I think we have a good, young quarterback that has some height, he has a decent arm, he can avoid the rush and his record says that when the ball is snapped he can make some plays and he's shown that. He did that in Akron. He did that in the preseason but in the regular season, when it's real, he hasn't had enough opportunities to do that," Crennel said of Frye.
Frye has attempted only 12 passes, completing six for 58 yards and having two intercepted. Crennel hasn't declared a starter for Sunday's game in Cleveland but expectations are that Frye will either be the starter or will see considerable playing time.
"It's my gut feeling when I want to put him in there. Our number one goal is to try to win the game," Crennel said.
There is no such uncertainty at running back. Reuben Droughns will attempt to become the first Browns running back in 20 years to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Kevin Mack last did it in 1985, one of only five running backs in Browns history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. The other four are Mike Pruitt, Greg Pruitt, Leroy Kelly and Jim Brown. Droughns needs 59 yards to become number six.
"He runs extremely hard every time he touches the ball. He breaks tackles. He's a good team guy, has a great attitude on the sideline and he just wants his team to try and win," Crennel said of Droughns.
Droughns is the player the Jaguars must stop to continue their march to the playoffs. At 8-3, the Jaguars can take another major step toward making the playoffs for the first time in six years with a win in Cleveland.
"He plays football the way I like to see it played," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said of Droughns. "They're 3-2 at home. They've beaten Chicago there; shut out Miami there."
The weather forecast for Cleveland on Sunday is for temperatures in the mid-30's. Snow is not expected.
"It's going to be cold. It's a mindset," Del Rio said of preparing his team for its first cold-weather game of the season. Its next cold-weather game is likely to be in the playoffs.
The Browns are playing to make the 2006 season's playoffs.
"What we are able to get done in these last five (games) will be somewhat of a statement about what direction we're going, what kind of progress we're making and then, hopefully, we can be a springboard into next year," Crennel said.