DAVIE, Fla. (AP) – Gus Frerotte spent his first five NFL seasons with the Washington Redskins, passing for nearly 10,000 yards before moving on to Detroit. When he returned to Washington for a game the following year, two spectators threw beer at him as he walked off the field following a playoff loss.

So Frerotte knows how fickle fans can be.

“That’s just how it goes,” he said Wednesday. “It’s a crazy thing, but you keep playing.”

Frerotte plans to keep playing for the Miami Dolphins, much to the consternation of fans who consider him the primary culprit for the team’s 3-5 record.

He won at least a one-week reprieve when coach Nick Saban said he’ll stay with Frerotte as the starter today against defending Super Bowl champion New England. But with a ranking of 29th among NFL passers, Frerotte knows he needs to play better.

“I’d like to say no criticism is justified, but I know that’s not the case,” he said. “I don’t live through rose-colored glasses.”

As best he can, Frerotte ignores his detractors in the stands, in the newspapers and on radio talk shows. He also attempts to ignore his wife’s reaction to them.

“She gets a little fired up,” he said. “I try not to listen to her.”

Disgruntled fans figure that because the Dolphins have an improved offensive line and a potent ground game with Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown, their offensive woes must be the quarterback’s fault. In last Sunday’s 17-10 loss to Atlanta, Frerotte threw for only 103 yards and was intercepted on the Dolphins’ final play after they reached the 8-yard line with a chance to tie.

“You just have to keep persevering,” said Frerotte, playing for his sixth team in 12 seasons. “I’ve had a lot of adversity in my career. I’ve had a wild and crazy ride in the NFL.

“I’m not going to apologize for plays I made. I thought the guy was open; I tried to put it in there.”

Frerotte is averaging less than 5.7 yards per pass, even lower than the Dolphins’ average last season when their offense was dismal. He has thrown nine interceptions, five in the red zone. Despite a strong arm, he has struggled to connect on the frequent deep passes Miami throws. And he had little success against the Falcons even though he was never sacked by a defense stacked to stop the run.

The 34-year-old Frerotte describes his performance in the first half of his first season with the Dolphins as rocky.

“It has been up and down,” he said. “It has been growing pains because I’m getting to know about every player on this team.”

Teammates have yet to lobby for a quarterback switch.

“We all think Gus has done a good job and have faith in him that he can continue to get better and help us win,” Williams said.

Backup Sage Rosenfels has started one game in five NFL seasons, and Saban said Frerotte remains Miami’s best option. Saban has urged his starting quarterback to ignore what fans might be saying – or shouting.

“I talked to Gus about the fact he doesn’t need to be affected by external things,” Saban said. “I don’t think anybody enjoys criticism, but as little as you can be affected by external circumstances, the better you’ll be able to focus on the things you need to focus on.”

Frerotte will need to be sharp today, when his counterpart will be the Patriots’ prolific Tom Brady. A ball-control ground game would also help Miami’s chances.

“We’re going to give Ricky and Ronnie the ball,” Frerotte said. “And when my turn is called, I’ve got to do the right thing, and I have total confidence in that.”

AP-ES-11-09-05 1738EST


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