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Looking Back: Why Did We Trade Dilfer?

Heading into the season that just ended for us, Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel were willing to sit back and willingly accept the fact that we did not have a veteran backup quarterback. Not many fans in Cleveland liked the idea of heading into the season without any decent veteran quarterbacks on the roster, which brings back a question that was brought up before the season started: Why did we trade Trent Dilfer for Ken Dorsey? Let's take a look at some not-so-random facts regarding the whole Dilfer-for-Dorsey trade:

  1. No Need to Start: Now, don't get me wrong, every quarterback in the NFL wants to start. And, actually, that was the reason that Dilfer came to Cleveland in the first place: he knew he would get the opportunity to start with the Browns. He actually had a decent record during the start of his tenure with the Browns, before handing the reigns over to Charlie Frye. Sure, he was a little ticked off when he lost the job, but I would have to believe that would have more to do with the fact that there was animosity between him and Maurice Carthon.

  2. No Problems This Year: When Dilfer was sent to the 49ers, he probably couldn't have been happier. The coaching staff, under a seemingly much more controlled team under Mike Nolan, wasn't going to give him a headache every time he turned around. In the process, second-year quarterback Alex Smith played slightly better than average on a team that I thought wouldn't be able to contend for several years. And, when you consider the fact that his only offensive weapon available for most of the season was Antonio Bryant, he had a lot less to work with in the passing game than Frye did.
  3. Wrong Impression: Granted, I'm not going to attribute Smith's success exclusively due to Dilfer by any means, because the 49ers did have a lot of help from their running game. However, for the couple of 49ers games that I saw this season, I saw Dilfer on the sidelines talking to Smith, making the effort to actually discuss what just happened on the field. In comparison, when Frye went to the sideline this season, who did he have to talk to? Most of the time, I saw Kellen Winslow or Braylon Edwards taking him aside, pleading with him that they wanted the football. Meanwhile, sights of Ken Dorsey being a person to give Frye some advice were non-existent.

  4. Little Things: Frye's late-game interception against the Oakland Raiders (What if Dilfer told him before the drive to throw anything dangerous out of the back of the end zone?). Northcutt's dropped pass for a touchdown against the Panthers (What if Dilfer told Frye how to adjust in terms of composure and confidence in his receivers?). Braylon Edwards' outburst on the sidelines (Would Dilfer have just stood there while Edwards did that to Frye? You don't let other players do that to you). It is not possible for me to know whether or not someone actually did try to help Frye with these things during a game this season, but if they did, either Frye didn't respond, or they did a piss-poor job in getting their message across.

  5. Down Goes QB...In Comes Veteran: Sometimes, it only makes sense. Heck, that is the reason why the Doug Fluties, Vinny Testeverdes, Doug Johnsons, and Trent Dilfers have had extended tenures in the league: they can be somewhat relied on to manage a game if the starter goes down. Granted, I did enjoy seeing Derek Anderson get some playing time this season, but if you want to be a competitive football team after a starter goes down, you typically need a veteran more capable than Dorsey.

With that said the question becomes this: Should the Browns get a backup veteran quarterback in the offseason? Based on the way the management has been talking, it doesn't seem like we'll be seeking one. If Frye and Anderson are going to battle it out for the starting role, it doesn't seem as if the coaching staff is too concerned with the position. And, if the Browns decide to draft a guy like Troy Smith in the second round of the draft, that would really throw the veteran backup situation into complete turmoil.

The ultimate solution would be to hire Bernie Kosar as a sideline consultant to Frye or whomever starts for the Browns next season. Unfortunately, we all know that's not going to happen.