Will they put the team first?
Third QB Seneca Wallace is Mike Holmgren’s buddy and came with him all the way from Seattle. Up until Randy Lerner sold the team, this fact meant that the extremely well paid Wallace would remain in town.
However, now that Mr. Haslam will become the new Browns owner in October, Mr. Holmgren’s job is far from secure. The current Browns president may therefore choose to do the best thing for the Cleveland Browns and try to keep Colt McCoy on the team and unload the remainder of the hefty $9 million contract that he gave Wallace in 2011.
Or will the new owner simply “eat” some of that money to keep the better player? Oh, to be a fly on the office wall in Berea.
An attempt to keep a talented player with experience in this scheme might help Mike convince Jimmy that he actually has the team’s best interest at heart.
Judging from the cheers greeting McCoy’s entrance into the game in preseason Week 3, Browns fans have identified the best backup QB on their team.
Throwin' on the run!
Brandon Weeden has been sacked four times in 2012. He’s only tried to pass the ball 49 times. That’s a sack on 8.16 percent of pass attempts.
Colt McCoy has also been sacked four times. Hardly what one hopes for in pass-protection.
Weeden is not exactly what you’d call a scrambler. He’s not what you’d call a mobile quarterback. Let’s face it—the guy is a pocket-passer. That’s wonderful. When there is a pocket.
Browns fans have high hopes for a logarithmically improved offensive line in 2012. So far, those hopes are being sorely tested as rookie RT Mitchell Schwartz and RG Shawn Lauvao have struggled to protect their rookie signal-caller. (Ryan Miller, anyone?)
What’s of even greater concern was the sack given up against the Eagles by Pro Bowl LT Joe Thomas.
This is old news to McCoy who has wasted no time using his mobility to roll out and get rid of the ball. Of course he looks comfortable doing it—he did it all last season.
Weeden is a sturdy looking guy. However, the lack of protection has to worry everyone from Jimmy Haslam to the Dawg Pounders. Cleveland’s backup quarterback is one sack away from action. With eight sacks in three games, that opportunity could come at any time.
Seneca Wallace has not been sacked. However, his completion percentage is 56.5 and his QB rating is 74.4. Neither of those numbers is going to inspire confidence in a coaching staff or front office.
McCoy is 25 years old.
Wallace is 32 years old. Not to bash the former Seahawk. He was an extremely effective secret weapon in his “slash” capacity under Mike Holmgren. He just isn’t a starting NFL quarterback.
Through three games Weeden has completed 24-of-49 passes (49 percent) for 297 yards with a 6.1 average. He has thrown zero TD passes and one interception.
He has lost the ball on three of his four sacks. He has taken responsibility (according to the Columbus Times Dispatch) for a Montario Hardesty fumble with a shaky handoff.
While Weeden certainly doesn’t deserve all the criticism being flung his way, losing the football is going to put any football player on the bench.
One thing about being on your second professional career at the age of 28—you’d better be prepared to go for the gold. Weeden doesn’t seem to have any hesitations. Jeff Schudel of The News-Herald reported Weeden as saying:
Coach Shurmur told me after practice, “I don't ever want to take away your aggressiveness, but if it's not there, you have to check it down.” I understand that completely, but you have to take shots. Look at Brett Favre. There were mistakes every once in a while, but there are also going to be big plays.
To a fan wanting breathtaking entertainment, that comment is thrilling. To a fan that doesn’t want interceptions, it’s a little terrifying.
To a coach, it’s a warning.
Pat Shurmur’s seat could not possibly be any hotter. He has to win now. Right now. Or his job is toast.
If Weeden starts throwing interceptions or keeps giving up fumbles, the backup quarterback is going to get in the game.
Both Weeden and McCoy have had one full offseason under Pat Shurmur, running the Philly offense created by Andy Reid and Brad Childress.
However, McCoy ran this offense all last season. He may have had to play catch-up after the lockout, but lack of scheme knowledge is not the reason that McCoy isn’t the Browns starter.
For a guy who hardly got a fair shot at a successful season last year, McCoy ran the offense effectively in the second half of 2011 and has had total command thus far in 2012.
Weeden has to focus his entire attention on learning his job. McCoy has a little focus to spare for the rest of his unit. He is often seen encouraging players in the huddle, on the field and along the sidelines.
This preseason McCoy has led several successful long scoring drives (just as he did last season on quite a few occasions).
McCoy is 18-of-24. That’s a completion percentage of 75 percent. He has a touchdown pass and no interceptions.
He has passed for 63 fewer yards than Weeden on six fewer passes.
His yards-per-attempt are 9.8. Weeden’s are 6.1.
Did I mention that McCoy’s QB rating is 119.1? Yeah, we know it’s against reserve defenses, but still…
None of this is going to push Colt past a first-round draft pick as of now. However, it is enough to make keeping Seneca Wallace look ridiculous from a football perspective.
"M" stands for mobile.
For a backup quarterback supposedly fighting for the No. 2 spot, there has been a lot of ink on McCoy recently.
First, there was the prominently reported story of how much Colt loves Cleveland. The quarterback told Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer:
If it comes to that, if they decide to do something, [I'll deal with it] at that point. But no one has said anything to me yet, and there's no place I'd rather be than here. I'm invested in this city and this team, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Then there was the extremely intriguing report, coming from McCoy himself, that his college shoulder injury had pinched a nerve that was just now healing. Nate Ulrich of The Akron Beacon Journal reported that McCoy spoke with quite a few members of the press after practice on August 21st and quoted McCoy as saying:
I’ve been rehabbing a lot throughout the last couple years, and when I first got diagnosed with this, the doctor said it was a two-to-three year recovery...So now I’m getting to that point, and my shoulder feels really good. The ball’s coming out well. There’s a lot of zip on it. I think a lot of things are coming together with being a year and a half in the system...The ball feels good as I release it. So everything’s good.
Does anyone truly think that the timing of this announcement is coincidental?
When the only possible knock on McCoy is arm strength, and coming on the heels of his excellent preseason play, this is a rather pertinent media alert to float into the NFL universe.
In a recent press conference, Pat Shurmur said (quoted here by Chris Pokorny of dawgsbynature.com):
If we’re going to talk about Thad Lewis, being with him for a year in St. Louis, I saw him respond in a way that he did in the Detroit game. Very few reps and then go in there and play pretty well, which is an attribute that a backup initially has to have because you don’t get many reps and then all of a sudden you’re in a game...I think there’s value in that. I really do and there’s something to Thad that I think is worth developing.
Lewis can’t be on the practice squad because he was active for too many games in 2011.
Lewis has completed five out of eight passes that averaged 11.3 yards per attempt. While hardly conclusive, that’s not bad for a guy playing with a bunch of soon-to-be-unemployed players.
If Shurmur is serious about “developing” Thaddeus Lewis, they unquestionably need to keep McCoy because everyone knows that Seneca Wallace isn’t going to do it.
The NFL is a cold business. Any player can be out of a job for a number of reasons—several of which have nothing to do with playing ability.
Ask Drew Bledsoe.
Or Matt Hasselbeck, who just lost his job to a first-round draft pick that has been thrust into the starting role despite not out playing his veteran competition. Colt McCoy can relate.
By every media account since Mr. Hasselbeck entered the NFL, he is the nicest man on the face of the earth.
If you missed the Cardinals/Titans game on Thursday, August 23rd, you did not hear Trent Dilfer’s impassioned tribute to Hasselbeck’s exemplary character: Dilfer said on the ESPN telecast (as quoted by Terry McCormick of the National Football Post):
I credit Matthew Hasselbeck for the type of father I am, the type of husband I am, because he really saved my life in 2003.
Dilfer is reputed to be in the all-time-good-guy category himself, so that’s pretty high praise. The former Ravens Super Bowl winner went on to state that he thought Jake Locker was incredibly fortunate to have Matt Hasselbeck on his team.
Hasselbeck has been a walking definition of gracious maturity during the Titans’ quarterback battle, and he remains just as classy after being named the backup. He told nfl.com:
As hard as it was for me to hear that, I'm also excited for Jake. It's a great opportunity for him. I'll help and support him any way that I can, and I'll be happy to do it...If the team needs me to play this year, I'll be ready to go, and be ready to play well, be ready to play like a starter. I'll prepare that way.
We all would like to think that we have that level of class. Right.
Team Player Extraordinaire
As a guy cut from the same cloth as Matt Hasselbeck and Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy would make every attempt to be a team player and a positive influence, as opposed to a contentious malcontent.
Whether or not he could control the emotions of his teammates, should Brandon Weeden struggle, is another matter, but discord would not begin with Colt. Brian Dulik of The Medina Gazette quoted McCoy as saying:
I couldn’t be more proud to be here for Cleveland, for this city, for the fans, for my teammates. I mean, I’ve played with those guys for all year last year and a little bit of my first year, so I’ve got a lot invested with them. I’m doing it for them, too, not just myself.
But he really wants to stay, even as a backup? Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer quoted McCoy as saying:
I come out to practice every day, and I'm still competing. I'm still working toward being the best player that I can be. I know I can play, and until somebody tells me different, I'm a Cleveland Brown, and I'm going to give everything I have for this organization and for my teammates.
It's official: Colt McCoy is without doubt the best backup quarterback the Cleveland Browns could possibly hope to have on their team going into 2012.