BEREA — The question to Derek Anderson begged for a soul-searching answer with references to Kant, Nietzsche and Aristotle.
“Could it have been him traded after Week 1 instead of Charlie Frye?” a reporter asked.
What the answer lacked in insight, it made up for in brevity.
“Could. Didn’t,” Anderson said Wednesday.
As simplistic as that sounds, the season changed when the Browns traded Frye to Seattle for a sixth-round draft pick. The move cleared the way for Anderson, who hasn’t looked back.
Neither has coach Romeo Crennel.
“We’ve got Seattle coming to town and we have to play them,” Crennel said. “We made that decision back then and we’ve moved on.”
Frye, the incumbent, won a tight preseason battle and earned the opening-day start vs. Pittsburgh. He went 4-for-10 with an interception, a 10.0 rating and five sacks and was benched before halftime of the 34-7 loss.
Two days later, he became the first Week 1 starting quarterback since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 traded before Week 2.
“I don’t know what they were thinking. All I know is I landed out here,” Frye told the Associated Press in Seattle. “I don’t think anyone realized that rope was going to be that short. But that’s the way it went down.”
Anderson had just three starts to Frye’s 18 to open the year, but has developed into one of the NFL’s biggest surprises. He’s thrown 17 touchdown passes and has a 95.5 rating. The Browns are averaging 31 points and are 4-2 with him as the starter.
“I’m happy for him,” said Frye, who declined to do a conference call with Cleveland media.
Running back Jamal Lewis was with the Ravens when they drafted Anderson in the sixth round in 2005. Baltimore lost him when it tried to sneak him through waivers and onto the practice squad.
“I couldn’t believe they let him go,” Lewis said. “He finally got an opportunity and is taking full advantage of it. He’s just getting better every week. He’s not as panicky in the huddle. He’s very poised.”
Anderson has been 6-foot-6 with a strong arm since he entered the league. What’s changed is his decision-making. He’s gone 10 straight quarters without an interception after throwing at least one in every other game in which he attempted a pass.
“I’m just making good decisions and guys have been making plays,” he said. “I haven’t forced too many balls.”
The Browns traded Frye primarily because he took five sacks in 15 dropbacks vs. the Steelers. (Anderson has been sacked eight times since.) General manager Phil Savage also acknowledged at the time that teams around the league had more interest in Frye, a third-round pick, than in Anderson.
“What I think people don’t realize is that the regular season, it’s a whole different level,” Frye said. “It wasn’t going to happen in Week 1. You really can’t base the season on what you saw in Week 1, because there are too many weapons on offense.”
Anderson threw five touchdowns and put up 51 points in Week 2.
Frye is playing and living outside of Ohio for the first time in his life. He grew up in Willard and starred at the University of Akron. He’s third on the depth chart behind Matt Hasselbeck and Seneca Wallace, who has been freed up to play some receiver since Frye’s learned the offense.
“When you’ve been the starter and all of a sudden you’re watching, there is a transition period where you’re grouchy about everything,” Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said in a conference call. “He’s handled it so well.”
Frye knows the Seahawks are Hasselbeck’s team, but remains confident in his ability to be a starter.
“I think eventually, whether hopefully it’s here or somewhere else, I’m getting another shot,” he said. “I’m still a young guy.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.