This decision has not garnered much attention yet because Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace both are not ready to return to action, however, even when they are the Browns have to let Colt McCoy start every game for the rest of the season.
Lets start from the beginning, the Browns drafted Colt McCoy in this past Aprils draft in the third round. Despite unprecedented success as a four year starter at the University of Texas, many scouts believed that McCoy lacked the size and arm strength to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL. The Browns did not plan on playing McCoy at all this season because in the preseason they acquired veterans Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace formerly of the Panthers and Seahawks respectively. Both Delhomme and Wallace fell victim to injuries during the first five games of the season and McCoy made his NFL debut last weekend against the Steelers. With a bye week following this weekends game against the Saints, it is likely McCoy will see at least one more start to give the two veterans extra time to recover.
So here we are with a 1-5 Browns team who have had a ridiculously difficult schedule which never gets any easier. Realistically any chance at making the playoffs is gone. The Browns are left with the same major flaw they have had since rejoining the league; they simply can not find a franchise quarterback. For anyone who has not yet noticed, the NFL is a quarterback driven league. Teams who win consistently are teams with top tier quarterbacks such as the Colts, Saints, Steelers, Chargers, and the Patriots. This is why the Browns must let McCoy play out the rest of their 2010 campaign. Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not anointing McCoy a future star because of one decent game against the Steelers, but the point is the Browns need to find out. If he can start to put things together and win some games, great for the Browns and he will have gained invaluable experience leading into next season. If it becomes clear that the scouts were right and his size and arm strength simply will not cut it, then it is likely the Browns will have a high draft pick where they can acquire a potential franchise QB (such as Washington’s Jake Locker or Stanford’s Andrew Luck).
This situation reminds meof the Chargers and Drew Brees. Brees faced the same kind of criticism as McCoy coming out of college and he struggled his first few years in the NFL. Right when the Chargers gave up on him and drafted Eli Manning (who they traded for Phillip Rivers), Brees put it all together and became one of the premier quarterbacks in the league. Now the Browns will get to see the reigning Superbowl MVP up close and personal as they travel to “The Big Easy” to face the Saints this week. Hopefully watching the masterful Brees shred the weak Browns secondary will help Mike Holmgren realize that this is the type of quarterback he could have on his hands. McCoy is very similar to Brees physically, actually he is an inch taller and a few pounds heavier. Their arm strength is comparable and both quarterbacks show above average mobility. Most importantly both men seem to have an intangible. Gumption, moxie, call it what you want, but at the core they seem to have a feel for winning football games. Like I said before it is way to early to say that McCoy is the next Drew Brees, but the Browns who have very little else going for them need to be open to this possibility.
Now you all may be sitting there reading this, agreeing with me completely, and thinking “why wouldn’t the Browns start McCoy.” Here is the only good reason I can think of. It is well known that Coach Eric Mangini has been on the hot seat since Mike Holmgren took over as Browns’ President. It was speculated that Holmgren was going to bring in his own coach last off-season, but he decided to give Mangini a second year as Browns coach to see what he can do. Knowing that his coaching career is in jeopardy, Mangini might lean towards the veteran quarterbacks who give his team the best chance to win now, even if they are out of playoff contention. We’ll see how this situation plays out when Delhomme and Wallace are at full strength, but I guarantee any Browns fans would gladly trade the two or three extra wins Delhomme would get this season for potential playoff births down the line if McCoy develops into a star. Let me also reiterate that the second part of my reason why McCoy must start is almost as important as the first; if the Browns tank down the stretch it might not be so bad because this would be a great year to have the first or second pick in the draft.
One last thing to consider, most people think if a quarterback starts a game he has to finish it. This is not necessarily true. Even if McCoy is the starter, if he is having a rough day the Browns can go to Delhomme or Wallace out of the bullpen and let McCoy try it again the next week. Ease him in, protect him a bit, but get him as much playing time as possible. It’s all about the future Browns fans which is why it’s McCoy or bust this season, or perhaps McCoy and bust.
About the Author
Written by Fran Berkman
Francis (Fran) Berkman is a graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY with a BS in Human Development. He is currently working towards a master's degree in journalism at Hofstra University. He lives in Massapequa, NY.