The least encouraging thing about Sunday's 34-17 loss at New England was that 'Bad Derek,' aka Browns quarterback Derek Anderson, appeared again, just as he did in Oakland. This time Anderson's Jekyll and Hyde impersonation included three first-half interceptions that led to 14 Patriots points and halted a drive to the New England 1.
While the Browns may be hoping to get through the season with Anderson so rookie Brady Quinn can watch and learn, Anderson's inconsistency has to be driving the organization nuts. He has shown resilence to rally his team in the second half of both the Raiders and Patriots games (this time closing the gap to 20-10 with 14:10 remaining), but usually he's taking advantage of a less-aggressive defense at that point.
Surprisingly, Browns coach Romeo Crennel did not chastize Anderson for poor decision-making, even though his rating of 59.0 was his second-lowest of the season (57.0 at Oakland). Two of Anderson's interceptions came on tipped passes and linebacker Mike Vrabel hit his arm on the other.
''I thought they were good decisions,'' Crennel said. ''I was looking right at one of them and the guy was open and he tried to get it in there. The linebacker broke on it and tipped it up and they intercepted it. On the other one he got the arm hit, so that hurt. That is part of the game. We've got to protect better and we have to deliver quicker.''
Anderson's most costly interception was his first, which stalled the drive that could have given the Browns a 7-3 lead. Tight end Steve Heiden was his intended target, but cornerback Asante Samuel tipped the ball to linebacker Junior Seau on third and goal at the 1.
''He had a chance to make it happen,'' Crennel said. ''He got flushed out a little bit and probably his feet weren't set enough because he was on the move. Maybe if he had been able to set his feet and deliver the ball he could have gotten it in.''
Crennel knew the importance of that turnover.
"If we get that touchdown you have a little confidence, you score on a team that hadn't been allowing any points and then maybe you're able to do some things the rest of the game. By not scoring, I think some of the guys wonder about what we are able to do and how we missed that opportunity and those kinds of things. But we did get it together a little bit in the second half and were a lot more competitive.''
Crennel may have been going easy on Anderson because he still likes the team's chances with him in the lineup rather than Quinn and doesn't want to damage Anderson's confidence. Also Crennel doesn't seem to be under as much pressure with the team 2-3 and facing winless Miami next week. Just about every Browns fans would take 3-3 at the bye, considering the brutal stretch of defenses Cleveland faced in the first six games.
But if Bad Derek continues his regular appearances, Crennel may be forced to change his plan with Quinn.