COLUMN: Frye needs to stay on the bench … for now

Joey Simon

I really hope Browns coach Romeo Crennel wasn’t serious when he said at a press conference Monday that he’s considering benching starting quarterback Trent Dilfer.

This was Crennel’s response when he was asked specifically if there would be a change at the quarterback position: “What we’ll do is that we’ll look at it, and we’re looking at everything. And if we determine that a personnel move needs to be made, then we’ll make a personnel move – at whatever position it is.”

Benching Dilfer and throwing rookie Charlie Frye to the wolves would be a terrible move by Crennel.

The Browns’ offense is in a funk; there’s no getting around it. It’s been inconsistent and hasn’t shown much progress through the first five games of the season, but Dilfer is not the problem.

The Browns’ offense is in the process of finding an identity, and Dilfer is the person who should help find that offensive direction.

Frye has potential. He showed very good pocket presence and the ability to stay calm in tough situations during the preseason. However, he’s not ready to lead a totally revamped team into a new era, especially at a time when the offense is trying to find what kind of system it’s best at.

Dilfer, a 12-year veteran in the NFL, has been with three different teams, with three different coaches and three different offenses. He’s been through this type of adversity before, and while he may not have put up great numbers, the bottom line is he’s won. He knows how to work his way through this kind of problem.

I’m as excited to see what Frye can do as a starting quarterback as anyone else, but now is not the time.

Is Frye a bit more mature than most rookie quarterbacks? From what he showed in the preseason, playing great in a last-minute spot start, probably. But that doesn’t mean you push him into the starting quarterback position a third of the way through his first NFL season. He’s still a rookie, no different than every other rookie that fell on his face when thrown into a tumultuous situation such as this one – anybody remember a guy by the name of Tim Couch?

Now, I’m not saying Frye is going to be the next Couch. I’m not that much of a cynic. However, he would be facing the same wrath of the Cleveland media and fan base as Couch did and could fold – hopefully not cry – just as Couch did.

Dilfer is a savvy veteran who’s won everywhere he’s went. He’s been through the thick and thin and knows how to lead a team when times are tough. Replacing him now could create major problems in the locker room and slow an already sputtering offense. He needs to stay at quarterback, for the sake of this season and many more ahead.

Contact sports editor Joey Simon at [email protected].