Many Cleveland Browns fans did not like the choice of Brandon Weeden with the 22nd overall selection in the 2012 NFL draft. With that selection, however, the Browns have opened their quarterback position to another controversy or open competition.
Many experts predict Weeden to open the season as the Browns’ starting quarterback, but is that prediction in the best interest for the Cleveland Browns in the short term? There is still a belief out there by many Clevelanders and NFL experts alike that Colt McCoy can and will be a quality starting quarterback and give the Browns their best chance of winning in the short term.
Here are five reasons why McCoy can capture the starting quarterback job in 2012 over Weeden.
Colt McCoy has started 21 games in his two seasons with the Cleveland Browns. No one can refute his time in Cleveland can only be categorized as mediocre at best.
With that said, though, McCoy has always had to learn on the fly while in Cleveland. He is now entering his second season under the West Coast offense and head coach Pat Shurmur. He now possesses a better understanding of what is expected of the quarterback in Shurmur’s offense and has proven in the past that when he is comfortable growth and development can be expected.
McCoy showed in his first eight starts that when comfortable in an offense he can be very effective. Even though McCoy was just getting his feet wet in the NFL at the time, the Browns had veteran quarterback Jake Delhomme, who helped McCoy learn the offense. In those first eight games under the tutelage of Delhomme, McCoy completed nearly 61 percent of his passes.
Finally, McCoy’s experience makes the speed and physicality of the game no big surprise. McCoy understands the commitment and determination it takes to be an NFL quarterback. All of these factors should allow Colt McCoy to enter training camp with a slight edge of rookie Brandon Weeden.
Mike Holmgren is a firm believer in the ideal that competition brings out the best in the best players. This is the exact reason why Holmgren, Tom Heckert and company took Weeden with the 22nd overall selection and are not handing him his first NFL starting quarterback job.
Holmgren and company believe in McCoy and believe that McCoy will rise to the challenge. Holmgren has said on multiple occasions that this is a true quarterback competition and he believes McCoy will be a very good NFL quarterback.
Even recently Holmgren had reiterated his ideals pertaining to this open competition by saying, “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..."
This may not be a ringing endorsement for McCoy, but he is a competitor and he will not relinquish his position without a fight.
Most people forget McCoy is only 25 years old. He is only entering his third NFL season after being a third-round selection. If nothing else, McCoy has to realize that every other NFL team is watching him to see how he will respond to this adversity.
If he plans on having a long and illustrious NFL career, McCoy better step up and prove to the entire NFL he is ready to compete and is not going anywhere for a very long time.
Do you know what Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning and Warren Moon all have in common?
Besides all being Hall of Fame-caliber quarterbacks, all of them have also started their rookie seasons.
Their combined total record as rookies: 6-24.
Their touchdown-to-interception ratio: 47-60.
The speed and physicality of the NFL takes some time to get adjusted to. Three Hall of Fame-worthy quarterbacks struggled in their rookie seasons as NFL starters, and what makes anyone think that Brandon Weeden will do any better?
No matter what headlines you read, I can assure you right now Weeden is currently not an NFL-ready quarterback. He played within a shotgun spread-based offense while in college and will need some time and adjustments to be ready for the West Coast offense and the NFL.
No one is saying that Weeden will not be a better long-term quarterback than McCoy, but if the Browns truly want to win right away one has to believe Colt McCoy with his NFL experience and familiarity with the Browns’ coaching staff, organization and other offensive players give them the best possible chance to win right away.
As a rookie, Brandon Weeden is already three years older than Colt McCoy, which already limits his window of opportunity. Because of his baseball-playing experience, Weeden is entering the NFL much later than most.
As much as Holmgren, Heckert and Shurmur want to say that this does not make a difference, it has to. All NFL teams want a long-term quarterback solution, and McCoy offers the Browns more years.
Weeden will look great in shoulder pads and helmets, with his strong cannon for a right arm and his big mature body (6’4’’, 220 pounds).
McCoy will continue to show off his deficiencies throughout camp, looking terrible when nothing is on the line.
The problem with all of that is that games are not won in just shoulder pads and helmets. Games are not won because you are tall and can throw the ball deep. Browns fans forget too easily the last Browns quarterback that was credited with the same characteristics as Brandon Weeden.
His name was Derek Anderson.
Anderson always looked great when there was no pressure on him to make the big play. When the games truly counted, however, you could always guarantee a big mistake from the strong-armed pocket passer.
This is the same advantage that has to be taken into consideration when considering McCoy vs. Weeden.
Weeden definitely wins the height and strong rocket arm part of the competition, but McCoy is a gamer that has already proven to be mobile enough to cover deficiencies within the offense and make good quality decision while on the run.
Weeden offers nothing out of the pocket and has already had his decision making questioned by some coaches who had coached against him while he was in college, while McCoy’s athleticism and decision making have always been underrated since entering the NFL.
Now that the Browns have used some higher draft picks to solidify their offensive line and running back position, this will only complement McCoy’s skill set even further, allowing McCoy to have more freedom within the Browns’ offense.
This maybe the furthest and most conspiracy-driven factor yet, but bare with me for a moment.
Say the worst-case and most-likely scenario happens for the Cleveland Browns. Either quarterback gets named the starter, and the Browns are still just terrible this season. In turn, they are put in a position in the 2013 NFL draft to select the top West Coast quarterback available: Matt Barkley of USC.
No one will refute the fact that Barkley would be the best quarterback on the Browns roster whether you're in support of Brandon Weeden or Colt McCoy. Plus, in this scenario, how do the Browns even remotely think about passing on a four-year starter from USC who has run nothing but a version of the West Coast offense?
With all that said, this offseason has already proved there is little to no market value for Colt McCoy.
If you name Brandon Weeden your starter and this scenario occurs, Weeden will also have no market value within the NFL.
Placing the Browns in a scenario in which they have two quarterbacks with no market value and one of which would need to get released.
The silver lining to this theory is as follows: If the Browns start McCoy and struggle under him, no harm is done. McCoy's market value is already at an all-time low and can only increase at this point. If you start McCoy, the intrigue that currently surrounds Weeden will stay in tact. The best thing the Browns can do is keep that intrigue high and hope another team would be willing to trade for Weeden if Matt Barkley does come available to them.
The Browns will never get in return the value in which they selected Brandon Weeden. However, if teams still think he has upside, then Heckert and Holmgren can at least admit to their mistake and still acquire a draft pick in return.
The ultimate worst scenario for the Browns would be for them to prove to the NFL Brandon Weeden is nothing more than another Drew Henson or Chris Weinke.