Anderson named Browns Player of the Year

Steve Doerschuk

It’s debatable whether Derek Anderson deserves to be the Browns Player of the Year.

According to the local chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America, he is.

The 24-year-old quarterback was told of the award Thursday. Voting was conducted Sunday in the Cincinnati press box, shortly before Anderson threw four interceptions.

Pro Bowlers Braylon Edwards and Joshua Cribbs rated consideration. So did Pro Bowl alternates Joe Thomas and Eric Steinbach, who have had Anderson’s back. He has been sacked just four times in the last eight games.

So did Jamal Lewis, who has a chance to rush for more yards than any Cleveland Brown since Jim Brown in 1965.

As typical, Anderson reacted with humor, saying he’s glad he didn’t win the Good Guy Award — no previous winner is still with the team.

He knows he’s not even the Browns’ most valuable quarterback this week, in terms of making the playoffs. That would be Jim Sorgi, the Colts backup who must beat Tennessee on Sunday night.

“Maybe I’ll send him a box of cookies,” Anderson said.

Sorgi becomes a serious figure only because Anderson and Co. lost, 19-14, at Cincinnati on Sunday. Anderson had his poorest game at the worst time. A win would have clinched a playoff spot and given the Browns a shot at winning the AFC North.

Head Coach Romeo Crennel was forgiving Thursday as he assessed Anderson’s body of work.

“When you think of what he has been able to do and where this team has come, he’s had a good year,” Crennel said. “He is experiencing some things for the first time. He’s handled them pretty good, generally.”

General Manager Phil Savage analyzed Anderson’s season thusly in radio interview: “When you go to A to Z, I think you would have to say he’s had a very good year,” Savage said. “Anytime you throw 28 touchdowns ...

“He’s thrown the 18 picks, but he’s taken less sacks than just about anybody. For a first-year starter ... we really have to take a step back and recognize what we may have in this player.”

Savage used a golf analogy to characterize the tall, young QB’s first full year as an NFL starter.

“He can hit the 350-yard drive,” Savage said, “and that’s what makes him a great prospect, but that also can be a bit of a negative at times.

“It’s our job going forward to try to teach D.A. to play with a 7-iron, so to speak.”

Anderson has never played this course. He didn’t get in a game as a 2005 rookie, then played in four games in relief of Charlie Frye in 2006.

Anderson got tons of playing experience in college, but the NFL season is longer. In terms of hitting a wall, he said, “I’m good.”

Three of his five worst games in terms of passer rating, though, have come this month. In September, the league was buzzing about Anderson after he won a 51-45 shootout against Cincinnati.

“They were on fire,” Oakland Head Coach lane Kiffin said then. “I can’t imagine them playing much better.

“He was like that at Oregon State. When he gets rid of it and has time, he has that big-time arm and accuracy.”

Now there is a whole season to weigh.

“(Anderson) has done an outstanding job of utilizing the guys around him,” 49ers Head Coach Dick Nolan said. “That inspires your football team.”

There would be something inspiring about the team’s home record if the Browns win Sunday.

The only loss, in the opener against Pittsburgh, came with Charlie Frye starting. Anderson would be 7-0.

Then, the question becomes: With Brady Quinn in hand, will quarterback-needy teams be inspired to offer the Browns an offer they can’t refuse for Anderson?

Reach Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or e-mail

In the passing lane

Some of Derek Anderson’s 2007 superlatives:

- With 3,635 passing yards, he has a chance to be second in franchise history, passing Brian Sipe’s 3,876 yards in 1981.

- Can pass Bernie Kosar’s best season, 3,854 yards in 1986.

- Already way past Tim Couch’s best year, 3,040 yards in 2001.

- With 28 touchdowns, he has a chance to catch Sipe’s franchise-best 30 set in 1980.

- His 12.67 yards per completion is No. 1 in the NFL, just ahead of Tony Romo’s 12.58.