Owl: A Ticking Roster Bomb

The Owl has been keeping a close eye on the Browns practices. Having an aerial view, of course, helps track everything. He's seen a problem on the Browns roster he feels could be a very serious one, and feels that it needs to be resolved soon, or else...

This would be a good time for Browns fans to start praying Charlie Frye stays healthy all season long.

Frye heads into the preseason game next Thursday as the undisputed starting quarterback. When he plays against the Eagles, however long that is, he will be behind a backup right tackle, possibly Nat Dorsey, and backup center Bob Hallen.

Hallen can play, but Dorsey might be best in look-out blocks. A look out block is used when the end beats the tackle. The tackles who are good at it turn around quickly and yell, "Look out!" to the quarterback before the quarterback gets creamed.

The Owl has been flying over the Browns training camp for a quarter century, and though he cannot remember every quarterback that ever played, he has reached the conclusion Ken Dorsey is the worst passer he has ever seen - at least worst among the quarterbacks that were supposed to make the team.

There have been some rag-arms signed just to keep the legitimate quarterbacks arms from falling off, but the Browns thought Dorsey could play when they traded Trent Dilfer to the 49ers for Dorsey and a seventh round draft choice.

Dorsey throws interceptions when there is no pass rush to contend with. What's he going to do when he faces a real opponent?

Losing LeCharles Bentley was a serious blow. Losing Ryan Tucker, albeit only for the preseason, makes the line even shakier. But even though Nat Dorsey is an unknown, at least he looks like a football player.

Coach Romeo Crennel won't jump on Ken Dorsey. When reporters question the coach about Dorsey he defends him, as a good coach should. But behind closed doors Crennel has to be wondering how the Browns got into this fix.

Crennel said on the day the Dilfer trade was made that Vinny Testaverde is a player who knows the system. He said Vinny "is in the back of my mind" as a player who could help if Dorsey fails.

It is time for Crennel to find out whether Testaverde, 42, is willing to play one more season. If he finds the answer to be no, then Crennel has to go in another direction. Phil Savage will have to watch the waiver wire daily to see which quarterbacks are released.

Of all the positions on the roster, quarterback has the least depth. And it is the position that season after season incurs a long list of casualties. Just look at the Browns last year; Crennel wanted to use Frye as a starter somewhere along the line, but Dilfer solved the problem for him by being injured in the game against Minnesota.

Odds of Frye playing 16 games are not good, especially behind a patched up offensive line. That's why the Browns have to find another quarterback as soon as they can. If it means waiting for roster cuts to 75, fine, but Crennel and Savage cannot deceive themselves into thinking Ken Dorsey is the answer.

As it turned out, the Dilfer trade was not a good one. In essence, the Browns traded Gerard Warren for a seventh-round draft choice. They traded Warren to the Broncos in March, 2005 for a fourth-round pick and then used that pick to get Dilfer from Seattle. The 49ers threw in a seventh-round pick when they shipped Dorsey east.

Nobody thought it was a bad trade at the time. We admit a columnist always has 20-20 hindsight. Savage had faith in Dilfer, but Dilfer did not justify that faith. Dilfer was acquired before Frye was drafted. He was the starter from the beginning in 2005, but he should have been smart enough to know he was not going to be the starter for long.

How Savage handles this backup situation will test him.


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