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Making time count
The battle many Ohioans anticipate most is Brandon Weeden versus Colt McCoy. Step right up, folks! It’s Opie versus the Choir Boy!
However, have the chips fallen in such a way as to make a training camp duel irrelevant? Anyone oblivious to the role of luck in a successful NFL career needs to take a look at the tale of Weeden and McCoy.
Right after becoming the winningest QB in college history, McCoy sustained a nationally televised shoulder injury in a bowl game, which helped drop him down to the third round—and the Cleveland Browns.
Then both the first- and second-string quarterbacks were injured and the rookie was handed the reins to a far-from-perfect offense. He showed enough of "the right stuff" to be the presumptive starter going into 2011.
Then the lockout robbed him of an offseason to learn a new and complex offensive scheme. Then injury and pique took out his running game. And then James Harrison took him out of the season.
On the other side of the duel, Brandon Weeden gambled on baseball—and lost. Coming into the draft at his age should have made him a second-rounder at best.
However, the Tennessee Titans robbed Cleveland of their targeted WR Kendall Wright at the 20th pick. Bingo! Brandon Weeden is suddenly a first-round draft choice.
The economics of football now give Weeden a big advantage in Cleveland’s starting-QB battle. Just ask Kurt Warner about Eli Manning. Or Donovan McNabb about Christian Ponder.
None of this will matter if Weeden is a spectacular flop. Pat Shurmur will apologize to McCoy and everyone will pretend that Weeden was supposed to be a backup all along.
That isn’t likely, however. Weeden’s maturity makes his college success less of a fluke and more of a calculated step towards professional athletic success.
And even if McCoy and Weeden come out even, McCoy loses to the dollars. This is completely unfair to him and largely a product of lousy luck. However, McCoy may land somewhere that needs depth at QB (Indy? Chargers since McCoy is probably better than Charlie Whitehurst? Rams since he is better than Kellen Clemens?). McCoy getting another shot at starting wouldn’t be out of the question. Just probably not in Cleveland.
Brandon Weeden will be the starter. McCoy will ask for a trade. The Browns will hang onto Seneca Wallace for one more year. This prediction is again based solely on money: Wallace is going to earn $3 million in 2012. And the Browns are on the hook for that money, unless they can sell Seneca to another team. Yeah, that's gonna happen.
So Mike Holmgren and Shurmur will keep him and hope that either Thaddeus Lewis or Darron Thomas can develop enough in 2012 to be promoted to the clipboard position in 2013.
The winner of Thomas vs. Lewis will be whomever Holmgren had the most input into signing. That is, of course, if Thomas had a successful tryout this past weekend.
Thomas demonstrated the most recent example of bad career decision-making by a collegiate football player when he decided to come out of college early. The verdict is apparently in: NFL front offices believe his 5,642 passing yards and 63 TDs over the past two years were more a product of the Oregon Ducks’ offensive system than of Thomas’ talent.Whether or not he lands a contract by the end of the week will depend upon his performance in some rookie camps—and team needs.
Or, to continue the Kurt Warner scenario: McCoy trades out before September, the Browns somehow convince McNabb to take the backup role, Weeden fizzles—a la Matt Leinart—and McNabb leads the Browns to the Super Bowl.
Hey, it could happen.
Darron Thomas/Thaddeus Lewis