Cleveland Browns: Colt McCoy Is a Great Debate, but an Unnecessary One

Noah Poinar@@noah_poinarCorrespondent IFebruary 6, 2012

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 4: Quarterback Colt McCoy #12 of the Cleveland Browns looks to his hands after throwing an incomplete pass during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 4, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Ravens debated the Browns 24-10. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Browns fans’ can consensually agree that Colt McCoy struggled this past season in his second year in the league.  But a lot of people will also agree that he was in a terrible situation and therefore does not deserve the kind of blame that some are giving him. 

Because of the un-enviable cards that McCoy was dealt this season, a lot of Browns fans still have faith that he can be the Browns quarterback for the long haul.  I’ll be straightforward with you: I’m not one of those people.  

Normally this is the part where I would state my case against Colt McCoy and engage in a cyber assault, via the message board, with any person who disagrees with my stance.  Unfortunately, the days spent arguing the merits of Colt McCoy are long gone. 

All the McCoy banter that Browns fans have indulged themselves in over the past four months was (and is) a lost cause.  In fact, it has been a lost cause for a while now.  It was nice while it lasted. 

Regardless of how you feel about Colt McCoy, he won’t be taking any more snaps as a starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.  The Cleveland Browns front office made up their mind on Colt McCoy a long time ago.  And when I say “a long time ago” I’m not talking about two or three months ago, I’m talking more like a year ago.   

Look at everything that has transpired with this organization over the last 13 months.

Did you see how bad the Browns offense was this season?  Pretty bad.  A large reason for that was the lack of playmakers they had on the offensive side of the ball; particularly in the passing game.

This season, the degree of atrocity that we saw from the Browns receivers didn’t come as a shock.  Entering the season, everyone knew the Browns receiving corps was ghastly to begin with. 

That’s why Browns fans were left scratching their heads all season long, asking themselves again and again, “Why did they pass on Julio Jones by trading down in the draft with Atlanta to select a defensive tackle?”   Why? 

You would think that Heckert and Holmgren would have wanted to help their hopeful franchise quarterback by giving him a playmaker like Julio Jones to throw to, right?  Yeah. 

But not if they had already dismissed McCoy as the teams’ long-term answer at quarterback.  Not if they weren’t invested.  Not if they had already set their sights on bigger and better things. 

Put yourself in the shoes of the Browns front office for a second.  Do you think they are holding off on their judgment of McCoy, telling themselves the same thing that fans are--that he didn’t have anyone surrounding him and therefore should be given more time?  

Considering they were the ones who deliberately chose to pass on Julio Jones, draft defense instead, and stand dormant in free agency... I’m guessing the answer is no.   

They saw enough early on to know how they were going to go about building this team--none of which involved Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, or Colt McCoy.    

They took Colt McCoy in the third round of the 2010 draft.  Believe it or not, there were reasons the former Heisman hopeful from Texas lasted that long on the draft board. 

He didn’t have the look of a prototypical franchise quarterback, lacking the type of size and arm strength that all scouts (including Heckert) look for when evaluating franchise quarterback prospects to-be.

Team front offices, whether right or wrong in their conclusions, don’t need a large sample size to determine a quarterback’s future.  Especially one taken in the third round. 

It’s entirely possible the Browns core office made their unofficial appraisal of Colt after his first season in 2010 when he made eight starts.  More than likely that, was probably the case.  

One can presume that Heckert made the trade with Atlanta with the intention of trading up in the next year’s draft (2012) for a franchise quarterback.  They knew Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley would be there in 2012, and both were safer bets than any quarterback coming out of the 2011 class.  Until then, McCoy would do.  

Why hire a brand new coaching staff and throw an entire new offense at McCoy in his second season in the league?  And why do it at the worst possible time, when the league is staring at an unavoidable lockout that could potentially shorten the season? 

Why give the offensive play-calling duties to Shurmur in his first season, waiting until after the season to hire Brad Childress as the offensive coordinator, and not even handing the play calling over to Childress?  

Looking back on everything from a franchise-building standpoint, none of it made sense.  In hindsight, it just looks like the Browns being the same old Browns that we’ve come to know and hate. 

It doesn’t make sense until you cogitate the possibility that at that point the head decision makers had already determined that Colt McCoy was not the guy.  Again, he was a third-round selection, dismissing him as the franchise QB so early on isn’t as inconceivable as it might sound.   

So now we hear the Browns are very interested in Robert Griffin III.  Some even believe they may trade up to the No. 2 spot to take him.  The worry with Griffin is that he ran the spread offense at Baylor and his skill set is not an ideal fit for the west coast offense that the Browns run.  So how would an RGIII-Cleveland Browns marriage work?

The truth is that Griffin could work out just fine if Shurmur and his staff tinker the offense to best suit his strengths and weaknesses, much like Carolina did this year with Cam Newton. 

There’s just one problem with that seemingly simple “tinkering” solution... Shurmur has already proven incapable of this task.  

A lot of Colt McCoy’s struggles this season can be attributed to Pat Shurmur and his (apparent) refusal to make tailored improvisations to the offense in order to best help McCoy succeed.   Colt McCoy actually regressed in his second season; that’s when you know something’s wrong. 

So is there anything that should lead us to believe that Shurmur is apt to making it work?  Nope, not really.  

There is one thing, though.  

We got a bad gauge of Pat Shurmur this season.   Think about it... Shurmur and the Browns were essentially a team in a NBA-like tanking position.   Rather, the offense was essentially in a NBA tanking position.  

At certain times it was as if Shurmur was secretly sabotaging the team, gunning for high draft position even if it meant feuding with Peyton Hillis. 

That’s how bad the various facets of his coaching looked at times, especially in the play-calling department.  You could single-handedly blame him for four of their losses this year.  

So if you’re Pat Shurmur and you know for a fact that the team has other plans at the quarterback position, doesn’t that affect a big part of what you do?  You know, being that you know your job is safe for the moment and getting a guy like RGIII can secure your job safety for the next 10 years?  

For all the talk we heard about the possibility of teams tanking it for Andrew Luck or another franchise altering QB, perhaps we saw shades of that from the Browns this season? 

If you’re Mike Holmgren (the guy who has Brett Favre, Joe Montana, and Steve Young credited to his name) and you’re trying to be the renowned guy who comes in and fixes this historic Browns franchise, don’t you do everything in your power to nab a franchise quarterback?  In 2011, yes.  

So would things really be any different for Shurmur and the Browns if RGIII were at the helm?  Could he actually dumb things down for Griffin and find a way to play to his strengths?  Would they find a way to surround him with more talent than McCoy had?  Yes. 

Because that’s what you do when you’re invested.  The Browns were never invested in Colt McCoy, and that’s why it was a terrible experience to be a Browns fan in 2011.        

That’s why the Cleveland Browns will take Robert Griffin III with the Rams' second overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft.


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