Why Colt McCoy Should Be the Starting Quarterback of the Cleveland Browns
by, 10-17-2010 at 10:28 PM (1824 Views)
I'm from Cleveland, and I know what Cleveland fans are like. When things are going badly, the sky is always falling, and when things are going well, we always believe it's better than it really is. I hope that no one thinks this post conforms to that pattern. That said, I think Colt McCoy has earned another start and ought to be the #1 quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. What I liked:
(1) He can make NFL throws. This was the biggest knock on McCoy coming into the draft. He owned a 70% completion percentage in college, but every analyst objected that he didn't make many NFL throws in college and that statistic could be deceiving. Today, I saw a guy who could step up in the pocket and throw it down field. I also saw him roll right, and nail his target some 30+ yards down field while still on the move. He did more than check down today, and tossed the ball around for 281 yards, with 23 completions on 33 attempts (that's 69.6% for you math whizzes out there).
(2) He's productive on first down. I was really concerned that the Browns would fall into a destructive pattern of running on first and second down, leaving McCoy in 3rd and long and unlikely to succeed. As it turned out, the Browns dropped back to pass about 16 times today, and averaged a net gain of 6.31 yards on their first down plays (as opposed to nine runs); some of these attempts came in the 4th quarter against a milder Pittsburgh defense, but 75% of them came before the Browns moved to the hurry-up, and the yardage correlates with those numbers.
(3) He lost his top two wide receivers before halftime. James Harrison personally wreaked havoc on the Browns receiving corps--and maybe deserves a suspension, though there were no penalties called on either hit--knocking out Josh Cribbs with eight minutes left in the 2nd quarter, and Mohammed Massaquoi just before the two minute warning. He was only able to complete six passes for 59 yards to wide receivers (two of them to Brian Robiskie for 13, four to Chansi Stuckey for 46). His top targets otherwise were Ben Watson (6 rec. /88 yards /1 TD), Evan Moore (4/84/0), and Peyton Hillis (6/49/0). MoMass may not terrify anyone, but he's a respectable wide receiver and Cribbs is our most dynamic player (and he gives the Steelers fits, so I'm not very surprised that Harrison lowered the crown of his helmet on #16 when he had an opening). If we're going to give McCoy a fair hearing, he deserves to have our two best outside options on the field.
(4) Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace aren't the answer, at least in the long-term. We all know that. Since we've already burned his redshirt, we ought to find out what we actually have in McCoy. Franchise quarterbacks, of course, don't grow on trees, and they don't always come in the form of third round pick. Holmgren, though, needs to see McCoy on the field so he can decide where we need to go with our first round draft pick next season. Delhomme is supposed to be a stopgap, and Wallace is a journeyman who isn't going to do a Rich Gannon impression. Wallace has done some nice things, and I believe he made the team more competitive than Delhomme (who also makes the team better than Anderson and Quinn, who were both abysmal last year), but none of that justifies starting either of them over McCoy.
(5) He's going to improve. I think, anyway. Seriously, could he have been given a tougher assignment than going into Pittsburgh coming off their bye in his first NFL start? And he played pretty well! He threw two interceptions, too, but there has to be some kind of a learning curve here. I don't want to anoint him the savior of Cleveland sports, but I think we owe it to him (and to ourselves) to give him the keys and see what he's capable of. College is a different game, but he won more games than any other starting quarterback in the history of Division 1-A.
There may be no argument about this if Delhomme and Wallace are still nursing their high ankle sprains and can't go. I would contend, though, that McCoy constitutes a better option regardless of their statuses, though.