Owl: Browns Right to Stick with Dilfer

The Browns are going to stick with the veteran QB, and the Owl will stick to his guns. While our featured contributor sometimes frightens us by snacking on rodents, his consistency should re-assure nervous Browns fans as the team plows forward into another uncertain season...

A month or so ago, when Trent Dilfer was playing well, I expressed the suggestion the Browns should start Charlie Frye at some time this season to see what he is made of.

Fans were so strongly opposed to the idea, it was like the Owl suggested putting a purple butterfly logo on the Browns' helmets.

Now that the offense is sinking in quicksand I say keep Frye right where he is for the time being. I applaud Romeo Crennel for, as he says "staying the course." He could make fans happy with a switch, but two things happen: He would have difficulty going back to Dilfer and if Frye falls on his face, then what?

My original idea was to make the switch with five or six games to play if the Browns were not in contention. I stick by that.

The reason for not making a change now is problems with this offense go much deeper than quarterback. Will Antonio Bryant stop dropping passes if Frye plays?

To use one of Romeo Crennel's favorite answers: 'Nope."

Will L.J. Shelton stop committing penalties if a change is made? Nope and nope again.

Frye is tough and so is Dilfer. Dilfer understands why he is taking heat for other players' problems. The point is, if Dilfer cannot be judged because of the mistakes around him, how could Frye be judged?

To fans and reporters, it always starts with the quarterback. Tim Couch was supposed to be the cornerstone of a new franchise, Jeff Garcia was supposed to be the captain of a sinking ship and Dilfer was supposed to be the life preserver for the team Garcia could not save.

Fortunately, Crennel sees things on a broader scope.

When one hears these players often enough, their words are taken, not with a grain, but with a bag of salt - a big bag.

Couch talked about what an honor it was to be the first Brown drafted in the new era. Garcia said so many right things when he was signed in March of 2004 fans couldn't help but be fired up.

Dilfer, who played with Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Seattle for 11 years before signing with the Browns in March, is still saying pretty much the same thing Couch and Garcia did. There is a difference, however, and it is reflected in the way players are rallying around Dilfer after two miserable games.

"Right now we don't think there's any need for a quarterback change," said rookie receiver Braylon Edwards. "We're sticking behind Trent 100 percent. We're going to get this thing done together."

Edwards and Frye are good buddies, but both are putting the team ahead of their friendship.

Jamir Miller, a retired linebacker who played for the Browns from 1999-2001, helped take down Couch by announcing publicly Couch did not associate with the defense. Miller questioned Couch's leadership. Ironically, Couch was battling a shoulder injury and, though he didn't know it at the time, Miller would never play again, the result of a torn Achilles in August of 2002.

Garcia didn't need anyone to ostracize him from his teammates. He took care of that himself by criticizing the play-calling and ripping his offensive line. A high school quarterback knows better than to call out his line, but Garcia broke that rule.

Dilfer made it a point from the very beginning to hang out with his new teammates away from the locker room and practice field, something Garcia never did. The Browns were not exactly a divided team the past couple years, but neither would they be considered chummy.

"They had me playing video games. I hadn't played video games in 10 years," Dilfer said, laughing. "They've got me playing these things and I'm pretty competitive. I kind of stay up at nights wondering how I'm going to beat them.

"It's important that you enjoy being around the people you work with every day because you are going to have to trust them in some very high-pressure situations. The way you do that is by bonding in the offseason."

Frye's time will come, but this is not it. Dilfer and the rest of the offense got into this mess together. Give them at least two more weeks to get out of it.

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