Our quarterback is exactly the right quarterback for the job
"The challenge with this football team and obviously you know the history better than me is when things here start to get bad people get frustrated. When the quarterback plays bad and that is not a new thing here, people get frustrated and the boos start and the team starts looking around wondering 'oh what will happen bad next.' My focus is not letting that happen. I never hung my head. I knew I wasn't playing good but I knew I had a lot of football left." -Trent Dilfer
It is time to come clean Browns fan. Early in the fourth quarter, you booed the offense and when your buddy suggest that maybe Charlie Frye should be in the game, you started to doubt Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel. You figured that Trent Dilfer's first three games were more a mirage than a signal he had a lot left.
If you haven't seen it in its entirety, check out www.clevelandbrowns.com and watch Trent Dilfer's post game press conference. We have seen the work of "geniuses" in this town. Carmen Policy had the golden touch in San Francisco. Butch Davis was the star pupil of Jimmy Johnson and resurrected the U. Both went down in flames in Brownstown, however, with their reputations tarnished. So it is easy to dismiss the latest boy genius and a respected coach of the Patriot way.
But the difference is not only now there is a plan but there also seems to be a firm foundation. You can actually go several days without seeing Savage's name in the paper because I assume he is out working. His veteran free agent moves have all helped this football team. And Romeo seems to not only talk a good game but, so far, everything he said would happen has. The Browns work hard and are finding a way to be in the game in the fourth quarter.
You can have the best general in the world, but you need a good Sergeant the troops believe in to led them into battle. Trent Dilfer is that man.
With the Browns sputtering Dilfer never lost faith. He knew he made two bad throws. In his press conference, he admitted the first was stupid, but he said he will make the second throw again in a game this year and it would go for a big gain. In the huddle, he reminded his team that the score was only 10-6 and they were one play away. Finally, he found Antonio Bryant for a 33-yard touchdown. Dilfer said he had another receiver in mind but when he saw Bryant's burst, he knew he had a chance even though the Bears were in coverage two. Dilfer said he was taught long ago there was no defense for a perfect throw so that is what he tried to do.
And then when the Browns recovered the fumble and took over at the 29 yard line with just 2:37 left, I am sure your first thought was the same as mine. They are going to just rush the ball up the middle three times, kick the field goal and give the Bears the ball back up just six with two minutes to play.
"Throw it for a first down," is what I yelled at the television, not really believing they would. But this is a different team.
Dilfer admitted he was playing for three and there was another more conservative pass planned, but when he finally saw the man coverage he had been waiting for all game, he told Bryant to run his route hard.
It was risk but taking risks is how you win football games. He made another perfect throw. The lead was ten instead of six and there would be no last minute heart breaking loss.
The major difference between this team and the ones that went before it is simply leadership. We are seeing what happens when a team believes in their coach. Right now, they might not have as much talent as other teams but they are playing hard in a system they believe in.
Do you think the Browns of the last six years would have won this game? I don't.
Check out this quote from Crennel's post game press conference.
"We found some rhythm and we were able to make some plays to win the game at the end. That's what we talk to the players (about): just fight, hang in there, do your job and play for 60 minutes. We did that and we were able to win as a result of it."
Trent Dilfer is not a Pro Bowl quality quarterback, but is providing the leadership that Luke McCown, Jeff Garcia, Kelly Holcomb and Tim Couch could not. He is the veteran presence that this team needs and while at times he does look old, he has proven he can make plays when he is needed to. He bounced back from two bad interceptions to complete 23 of 34 passes for 218 yards and the two touchdowns to Bryant.
Afterwards, he said he knew the offense still needed a lot of work, but this team was willing to do whatever it took.
"You can run us till the cows come home," Dilfer said. "We are not going to complain or make excuses."
Dilfer is not only the perfect quarterback for this team, but he is exactly what this city needs. He understands who we are and why he is here. He is not only the voice of reason for his teammates but for us as well. The comeback was not only meant to boost his teammates faith that they can make plays when they need to but us too.
"What I hope it does for the city and the fans is help them understand you have a bunch of guys who are doing everything in their power to be mentally and physically tough," Dilfer said.