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The problem with the Brandon Weeden/Colt McCoy quarterback duel is that it’s impossible to dislike either combatant. It’s the Texas Hero versus the Comeback Kid. They’re both seemingly likeable young men and the situation cannot end without crushing disappointment.
For some inexplicable reason, many fans seem to think Mike Holmgren is a quarterback guru. We laugh at all of those NFL Films clips of him sputtering at Brett Favre, but those pieces are, upon reflection, a picture of a man who cannot handle a quarterback. Heck, Holmgren couldn’t even get along with Matt Hasselbeck, who is, by all accounts, the nicest man in the world.
By drafting the 28-year-old Weeden, Holmgren and Heckert served notice that they intend to replace McCoy. Rookie or not, a 28-year-old is not hired to “develop” on the bench. His selection is a front office Hail Mary: a gamble on striking a geyser and dragging this team into instant contention. There is no other interpretation.
Believing there is a balanced quarterback competition being staged in Cleveland is sweet—but it’s inaccurate. Quarterbacks don’t benefit from being completely and systematically undermined for months at a time. The Browns’ treatment of McCoy is shabby in the extreme.
Of course the team had a right to pursue Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill or Weeden. The public will likely never know how hard they pushed for the Rams trade or how much they really planned to select Kendall Wright at the end of the first round.
Those stories really don’t mesh with any kind of “Colt’s our guy” or “Brandon’s our guy” plan. Those stories are either smokescreens designed to keep their cards hidden, or they really were throwing darts at the draft board. Yikes.
However, they’re now stuck with “Brandon’s our guy.” And post-draft behavior by office and coaches bear out that Weeden has been their guy since losing out on RGIII—no matter what they say. Provable? Of course not. Logical? Absolutely.
It would serve them right if Colt McCoy came storming into town, guns blazing and played so brilliantly that the team has to sit Weeden and waste all of that money on a clipboard holder. That’s unlikely, given the unequal playing field going in, but no one really expects McCoy to simply hand over the keys to a new-and-improved offensive roster.
The quarterback position in Cleveland has been mishandled from Day 1. Brandon Weeden may well turn out to be the proverbial “franchise quarterback." He may lead the Browns to the playoffs for 10 straight years. If he does, a victory-starved fanbase may forget all about this episode.
However, it will never be the Browns' finest hour.