The uncooperative high ankles of veterans Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace along with the promising performance of rookie Colt McCoy have put the Browns into yet another quarterback quandary.
The position that has seen consistent instability since 1999 is up for grabs again and the picking the starter will not an easy choice for coach Eric Mangini as the Browns come off of a bye week to host the Patriots. Both Delhomme and Wallace are still gimpy, although Wallace is further along and more likely to be available on Sunday.
Most Browns fans would agree that Delhomme should no longer be considered an option. His brief appearances as the Browns quarterback have shown Delhomme to be an old, slow shell of his former self with poor accuracy and decision-making. Throw in a bum ankle to his already stuck-in-quicksand mobility and he becomes even more of a liability.
The first question Mangini must ask himself if Wallace and McCoy are both healthy is: Who gives the team the best chance to win this Sunday and for the remainder of the season?
While there is no denying the encouraging effort of McCoy in the past two games, the Browns will have a better shot of winning games with Wallace at the helm.
Maybe I’ve watched too many ugly Browns games and failed quarterbacks, but McCoy is bound to run into some duds as a rookie quarterback. It’s also important to remember that while he has shown poise and accuracy, McCoy threw for just 74 yards and simply held down the fort for the Browns while their defense dominated in the win in the Superdome. Not that there’s anything wrong with that—the Browns would take that and a win for 16-plus weeks a year.
Also, just to temper expectations, I’ll add that he piled on a lot of his yards late against the Steelers in his debut and the Browns only scored 10 points. But again, I’m pleased with what I’ve seen from him so far.
Wallace has been fairly consistent, and while he just has one win, he has thrown the ball well and shown good mobility. He’s kept the Browns competitive every week that he played and has a QB rating of 88.5. Even if some argued that Wallace and McCoy were about equal at this point in their respective careers, as they might be, Wallace gets the nod because he’s a veteran.
On the downside, Wallace is nothing more than a solid backup quarterback and he is only considered a starter due to lack of options. But for now, he’s the Browns’ best chance to win.
Assuming Mangini agrees that Wallace gives the team the best chance to win, he has to ask himself another question: Are we going to play to win or play to develop and evaluate McCoy?
Mangini’s job is on the line. He coaches a 2-5 team that has competed into the fourth quarter of every game.
Mangini should have a “win at all costs” mentality and that means there is no time for developing McCoy, who wasn’t even supposed to play a down this season, let alone start two games.
There would be nothing wrong with naming McCoy the starter for the rest of the season. He still gives the Browns a shot to win and it would be exciting to find out if he can continue to grow and become a clear choice for the quarterback of the future. Also, Mangini’s approval rating would skyrocket because the majority of Browns fans would love to see the rookie start the rest of the season.
In reality, Mangini has to try to win games now, and Wallace has earned the chance to do that if he’s healthy.