Cleveland Browns: 6 Reasons Colt McCoy Could Start over Brandon Weeden
McCoy was the starter last year but had a mediocre season. While McCoy struggled to throw the ball down the field, the majority of the blame can’t be placed on his shoulders, thanks to an average offensive line and running game to support him.
In response to McCoy’s lackluster performance, the Browns’ front office elected to take Weeden with the No. 22 overall pick after an explosive career as the starting quarterback for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Now, the two are locked into a competition that doesn’t have a clear-cut winner. Conventional wisdom would say the rookie the team just spent a first-round selection on would have a lock on the starting job, but that may not be the case.
Here are six reasons Colt McCoy could start over Brandon Weeden in 2012:
The Browns Coaching Staff Still Believes in Him
While the Cleveland Browns appeared to have taken their quarterback of the future in Brandon Weeden, it doesn't seem as if the coaching staff has quite given up on Colt McCoy just yet.
Browns’ President Mike Holmgren says that Weeden will have to beat McCoy for the starting job:
“I still love Colt McCoy [but] we had a chance to get a mature quarterback who has a chance to come in and contribute right away. Whether that happens or not, we have to let it play out. We have to let them compete. We have to let them play and see what happens. The fact that we drafted him so high means that we like him, but we also like Colt McCoy, and we like Seneca as well.”
It’s a small sign of hope for McCoy, but it’s enough. The front office appears to realize that if Weeden isn’t ready to go they have to do what is best for the team to win games now. That means not throwing an ill-prepared Weeden to the wolves.
It goes without saying that NFL experience is invaluable for a quarterback trying to win the starting job. Colt McCoy has plenty of experience at the NFL level now that could allow him to with the Cleveland Browns’ competition over Brandon Weeden.
McCoy has now appeared in 21 games over the past two seasons for the Browns. He’s had the chance to develop chemistry with all of his weapons on the offensive side of the ball and is well known in the locker room.
Most importantly, McCoy has played in the AFC North. He’s adapted to the speed and physicality of the NFL which will give him the edge over Weeden when training camp rolls around.
Weeden Could Struggle to Adapt to NFL
It also goes without saying that rookies typically struggle to adapt to the NFL quickly unless they have outstanding talent around them. Brandon Weeden could have serious issues making the transition to the pro game.
In fact, he has already. He fumbled multiple snaps from under center during rookie minicamp. It’s a small issue, but it reinforces the concerns many had about Weeden coming out of college—he only worked from the shotgun in a hurry-up offense and preyed on weak defenses with elite receivers such as Justin Blackmon.
The speed of the game is much different at the professional level, as is the size of the players themselves. Weeden is going to be a work-in-progress compared to Colt McCoy.
Competition Will Bring out the Best in McCoy
Colt McCoy is only 25 years old and could have a long NFL career in front of him. The addition of Brandon Weeden will bring out the best in McCoy.
McCoy has told The Cleveland Plain Dealer that “I’m a competitor and I’m working harder than ever.”
This competition is something that will give McCoy the motivation he needs to be his best. Before adding Weeden to the roster, McCoy has never had any true competition that could have taken the starting job away from him.
Had a quarterback not been drafted this year, the starting gig would have went to McCoy without question, which could have allowed McCoy to be relaxed instead of pushing himself. This competition will allow the NFL to truly gauge whether McCoy is a starting-caliber quarterback or not.
Mobility and Decision Making
If Brandon Weeden beats Colt McCoy in height and arm strength, McCoy wins in mobility and decision making.
Weeden was infamous in college for not being able to handle pressure well with the pocket collapsing. Coaches have said he has a tendency to get rattled in the pocket and throw the ball away too quickly. That won’t work in the NFL, especially not in the AFC North. Defenses are going to blitz Weeden, and it could be a major issue.
Last season, McCoy was solid when under pressure. He’s faster than most give him credit for and is a good decision maker when throwing on the run.
This mobility was easy to predict from McCoy because, while at Texas, he rushed for over 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns, whereas, if Weeden is pressured, he simply goes down or makes a bad decision. This small factor in each player’s game could allow McCoy to win the starting job by the end of training camp.
Surrounding Talent Has Improved
Colt McCoy didn’t exactly have much to work with last season with the Cleveland Browns. The running game was nonexistent as the team only averaged 95 yards a game, and his shaky offensive line allowed him to be sacked 32 times.
Through the draft, the Browns added some stability along the line with the additions of Mitchell Schwartz and Ryan Miller.
Most importantly, the Browns selected Alabama running back Trent Richardson—an early candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year. He’ll put up massive numbers for the Browns and take the pressure off of the quarterback.
Actually, giving McCoy time to throw the ball and a running game defenses actually have to account for will do wonders for his game.
McCoy did well last season considering what he had to work with last season. Now that the unit around him has improved, there's nothing to say he can’t either. He’s heading into his third NFL season and should be reaching the peak of his development. It may be too early to give up on McCoy, and the Browns realize that.