Rich's Rant: News and Views

Long-time Cleveland sportswriter and broadcaster Rich Passan weighs in on three recent Browns news items...

News: The Browns trade Trent Dilfer to the San Francisco 49ers for Ken Dorsey and a draft choice next year.

Views: Addition by subtraction.

For a guy who came here preaching teamwork and the importance of everyone pulling together, Dilfer took lip service to a whole new level. His bark far exceeded his bite. Phil Savage paid way too much for him.

In summary: Nice guy. Below-average quarterback who played and complained his way out of town. Good riddance.

One minor problem taken care of; one major problem to attack.

There is no way General Manager Phil Savage can – or should – go into the 2006 season with Charlie Frye, Ken Dorsey and whomever as the clipboard dude as his quarterbacks. If he does, he's asking for trouble. Big-time trouble.

It is difficult to believe Savage would play the coming season with his club an injury away from Dorsey as the quarterback. Not if he expects the Browns to be at least competitive, if not contend for the playoffs.

At the very least, the Browns need an experienced hand ready to go in the event Frye doesn't make it through an entire season. Dorsey is not that quarterback.

Unless the Browns put in max protection on every passing play, Frye will be dinged silly at least once this season. He should be protected better than anyone this side of the Secret Service.

It has been mentioned that Dorsey, who is four months older than Frye, can mentor him. Don't think so. He's got enough problems trying to improve his own game.

Unfortunately, there are only a few experienced quarterbacks out there who could step right in and help. The best of the lot – and the one it is hoped Savage targets as his top choice – is Kerry Collins, a much more talented version of Dilfer.

Vinny Testaverde (please no Vinny; last season maybe, not this), Gus Frerotte and Jay Fiedler lurk, but Collins is better than all of them. Sign him, turn him loose against Frye in training camp and may the better man win. That should be Collins because there's no way Frye is better right now. He's still got a lot to learn.

Collins is bigger, has a stronger arm and brings 11 years of experience to the job. Granted he has thrown nearly as many career interceptions as touchdown passes, but he's coming off a season that saw him throw only 12 interceptions.

And he's just 33 years old, still in the prime of his pro career.

Only one problem: Collins most likely won't come here unless he is guaranteed a starting job. Savage might not be willing to do that.

Whomever the general manager signs, it is imperative to get that player into camp pronto, preferably before the veterans minicamp so he can get a feel for the offense and its nomenclature.

: Savage and Romeo Crennel pronounce themselves happy with the draft.

Views: Shocking.

Of course, they're happy. Probably thrilled. So are 31 other GMs and coaches around the National Football League. If they didn't say so publicly, they should be fired.

When was the last time you heard a GM or coach say he was disappointed with the players selected in the draft? That he wanted a do-over? Like never?

These guys slam it into full spin mode as soon as the last pick is made and then pile it on. After all, there are tickets to be sold, merchandise to be sold, hope to be sold.

The latter always springs eternal during the offseason. The previous season, especially the kind the Browns have experienced for the most part since their return, is buried quickly and deeply beneath a mountain of hope.

With a roster turnover that will approach about 30%, if not higher, it is only natural that fans allow themselves to dream of lofty goals for the Browns.

Now we're going to see if those draft picks can actually contribute to the cause.

News: The Browns improve their front seven through free agency and the draft.

Views: Of course they did.

As bad as they were against the run and at rushing the quarterback last year, anything would be an improvement. "Our front seven has at least the potential to turn the corner," Savage said.

Hate the word "potential". It means you have the talent, but for some reason you don't succeed. It means you're not quite good enough. It's a verbal crutch on which to lean.

Savage, it appears, has placed a greater emphasis on pressuring the passer than he did on stopping the run. Big mistake.

I come from the school that says you stop the run first. Do it successfully and you dictate the direction the opposing offense takes. Placing the opponent in second-and-long and third-and-long predicaments can upset a team's game's plan.

It is easier to run the ball than pass it. Most successful teams have strong running attacks and defenses that stop the run. The are basic parts of a winning formula.

The addition of free agent Ted Washington and the drafting of D'Qwell Jackson should help, but for how long? Washington is a long-toothed 38 and Jackson is bound to make rookie mistakes.

Fact of the matter is there is a sizable paucity of talent at defensive left end. Another year of Alvin McKinley and Nick Eason over there won't get the job done.

Now whether the Browns have improved the pass rush will depend on the development of top draft pick Kamerion Wimbley. We all know Willie McGinest is a force, but he needs plenty of help and that's where Wimbley becomes a factor.

Crennel is hopeful some of the new draftees can make an immediate impact. "If we can get the first-day guys to make a contribution and maybe some of the second-day guys, we'll be happy," he said.

Isn't that what all coaches hope for?

The OBR Top Stories