Owl: Charlie Frye's New Target

During the week of hype leading up to the Super Bowl, much was made of the teams (including the Browns) who bypassed Ben Roethlisberger on Draft Day. Should Browns fans use this as one more reason to curse Butch Davis? Not so fast, says the Owl...

One reason to be happy the Steelers won the Super Bowl is Charlie Frye really has something to focus on now - upstaging his friend and rival, Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger didn't play well against the Seahawks, but at 23 he is the youngest quarterback ever to start and win a Super Bowl. The fact he and Frye are both in the AFC North after both playing their high school football in Ohio and both playing in the Mid-American Conference only intensifies their rivalry.

"We grew up an hour away from each other," Frye said. "It's been that way since we were 18-years-old. As long as we are still here, they'll still be talking about us."

The Steelers took Roethlisberger with the 11th pick in the first round in 2004, five picks after the Browns drafted Kellen Winslow Jr. The Browns took Frye in the third round last year.

Would Roethlisberger have his amazing record as a starter if he had been drafted by the Browns? No way. Taking nothing away from what Roethlisberger has done, the players around him are better than the players around Frye.

Putting it another way, name one Browns player that could start for the Steelers. You don't need to use many fingers to do it. Braylon Edwards when healthy could, and maybe defensive end Orpheus Roye, but that's about it.

Asked before the Super Bowl if he feels like he's chasing Roethlisberger, Frye answered confidently: "Not necessarily (as far as) ability, just where his team is at. They are at the Super Bowl and he's a starting quarterback in the Super Bowl. That's obviously a dream that I had as a kid. I want to play in the Super Bowl. Now, I'm in the NFL and it's more realistic to get there. It's everyone's goal."

The Steelers were 15-1 in the regular season and advanced to the AFC championship game in 2004, Roethlisberger's rookie season. He played better in his second season because the Steelers became more of a passing team, though they still relied heavily on the run.

Frye will be watched closely in 2006. Some folks around the league were not convinced Roethlisberger was the real deal until he attacked the Colts defense in the playoffs. I know this website is supposed to be dedicated to loving the Browns and hating the Steelers, but at least give credit where credit is due, and Roethlisberger deserves credit for exceeding expectations. The Steelers deserve credit for drafting him.

Should Butch Davis be chastised for taking Winslow instead of Roethlisberger? Not from this perch. As we said, Roethlisberger has a better supporting cast, and no one could have predicted what has happened to Winslow. Davis' error was expecting good things from Jeff Garcia.

Frye has to show improvement in 2006 to remove any doubt he is the quarterback that can do for the Browns what Roethlisberger has done for the Steelers. If there were questions about the Steelers' representative from the MAC, questions about Frye must exist. One of those questions is about Frye's arm strength.

Fans sometimes have a misconception about what arm strength is. It isn't about heaving a football 75 yards downfield. If that were the case, Frisman Jackson would be starting. Arm strength is about delivering 15-yard and 20-yard ropes to any spot on the field. It is about threading the ball between two converging defenders. When a quarterback doesn't have the gun and throws an interception, fans see the pick on replay and wonder what the quarterback could have been thinking.

"We can get on the field right now," Frye said. "I'll show you how far I can throw it. That's something that's going to stick with me. Everyone has been talking about it for so long and they said the same thing about Bernie.

"I feel I can make all of the throws. I have made all of the throws and hopefully after this season we can end that."

Hopefully, but the only way for Frye to step out of Roethlisberger's shadow is to get to the Super Bowl.

 

The Owl is a big freaking bird who lives in a nest overlooking the Cleveland Browns Berea practice facilities. When not chasing around small rodents, the Owl likes to fly through open windows, find an available computer, and type out weekly OBR commentaries with his beak. The Owl's hobbies include trying new vole recipes and dodging anti-aircraft fire.

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