Can The Browns' Colt McCoy Replace LeBron James and Revive Cleveland?

Ross LipschultzAnalyst IJuly 23, 2010

BEREA, OH - MAY 01:  Colt McCoy #12 of the Cleveland Browns gets ready to throw a pass during rookie mini camp at the Cleveland Browns Training and Administrative Complex on May 1, 2010 in Berea, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The city of Cleveland has gone through a lot of sports misery.

The Catch. The Shot. The Drive. The “King."

Clevelanders must hate YouTube.

As NFL Training Camp gets started Friday, the city is abuzz with excitement again. The Browns, who are far and away Cleveland’s favorite son, are hitting the practice field and getting their rookies in camp.

And no rookie demands more attention than Colt McCoy.

The former University of Texas standout comes into camp with nearly no target on him whatsoever.

Team President Mike Holmgren already claims he has no intentions of playing McCoy a single down unless he absolutely must.

Which means Browns’ fans will get to watch Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace take the reins.

Boo winning season. Hooray interceptions!

It’s inevitable that the media and fans will over-scrutinize any mistake by Delhomme or Wallace. The sea of orange and brown could be chanting “We want Colt!” as soon as late September.

Unfortunately, they won’t get their wish, because it’s not the smart move.

McCoy is a proven winner and is capable of picking up the system quickly. His skills at Texas made him statistically one of the best college quarterbacks of all time, so there’s no reason to underestimate him.

However, patience is a virtue.

Rookie quarterbacks starting in the NFL have had very polarized results. Overall, there have been far more Matthew Staffords than Matt Ryans.

Most of the new guys seem fine during camp, but have trouble once the bright lights get turned on.

For Cleveland football, those lights could melt McCoy's face off.

The Browns’ brass is making a long-term investment in someone who can be the face of the franchise and city down the road.

He may not be LeBron James, but the way they are setting up McCoy’s development, we all may be witnesses.

In the past, young quarterbacks in Cleveland have been in a horrendous environment. Brady Quinn missed a lot of time with his holdout and missed valuable lessons in camp.

Tim Couch’s draft hype turned him into a diva and then a bust.

McCoy’s situation is different.

Holmgren and senior adviser Gil Haskell made absolutely sure that the rookie didn’t miss a second of time, and by claiming he won’t play this year, McCoy is under zero pressure.

The Browns intend to make their preseason into McCoy’s season. Giving him snaps against live action, running the scout team, and working with his new teammates will give him a tune-up for the NFL.

Putting him in a game could destroy that.

This is the same model the Cincinnati Bengals used with Carson Palmer and Jon Kitna. Palmer sat out an entire year, learned the offense, and soon became a Pro Bowl signal-caller.

If that happens in Cleveland, the Dawg Pound is going to get a whole lot more full.

Yes, there are worries that McCoy still is unable to throw the deep ball and doesn’t have the build for the NFL. But with Delhomme, who’s a very smart and savvy veteran, as a tutor and Holmgren as a mentor, McCoy has all the resources to grow.

So while it might seem like a good idea to get the hype on the field immediately, Cleveland fans need to trust the Browns front office.

The new president knows quarterbacks better than almost anyone, so it may be a good idea to believe he knows what he is doing, rather than going on a gut feeling. 

McCoy’s in the right place to make an impact, but he just has to bide his time. He isn’t the athletic specimen LeBron is, but with some grooming, he can be just as important to the city, if not more.

And when they make a beer about McCoy, it won’t have a bitter aftertaste.


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