Colt McCoy and Peyton Hillis have been two of the NFL's biggest surprises in the 2010-2011 season, leading the Cleveland Browns to wins over the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints and near-wins over the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars.
McCoy has a 2-3 record as a starter. He was seen after yesterday's Week 11 loss wearing a walking boot, supposedly having hurt his ankle.
Hillis is having a terrific year, sitting at 11th in the NFL in rushing yards (774) and third in touchdowns (10).
It might seem obvious that these two will lead the Browns to success in the long run, but I don't agree.
Here's why McCoy and Hillis won't be the duo to lead Cleveland back to glory.
Peyton Hillis is a big (240 pounds), bruising running back with just enough speed and quickness to make defenders miss.
He's only 24, but once he starts to hit his late 20s, it won't end well.
If Hillis loses just a step, whether it be because of age or sooner because of injury, he'll be too slow to succeed as an NFL running back.
I don't doubt that Hillis can be effective for another three years or so, but with the short shelf life of running backs (and Hillis' should be even shorter because of his lack of speed), he shouldn't be in the Browns' long-term plans.
On that note, even Hillis in his prime is not an explosive back.
He has no 50-plus yard runs and only has a rush of 25-plus yards in two games.
His 4.5 yards per carry average is good, but it's not elite.
Hillis is good enough to have a spot in this league, but we shouldn't be mistaking him for an MVP candidate because of his high-volume workload.
McCoy is doing a great job of limiting mistakes and keeping the Browns in games.
But he has made very few explosive plays, with no passes over 50 yards.
His arm strength was criticized coming out of Texas, and nothing has changed.
Of course, his lack of deep receiving threats (no one other than Josh Cribbs) and conservative play-calling haven't helped, but the fact remains that Colt hasn't proven that he can make big plays.
He's playing well beyond his years as a game manager, but he hasn't shown the upside that a young QB like Sam Bradford has.
McCoy was a very mobile quarterback at Texas, but he hasn't run for a whole lot of yardage in his young NFL career (87 yards in five games).
That in and of itself isn't concerning, but his 15 sacks is.
Colt was sacked six times by Jacksonville last week, and when you have Joe Thomas protecting your blindside, that is unacceptable.
It's still too early to call this a definite problem, but it is certainly a red flag.
The Browns' wins over New England and New Orleans were extremely impressive, but they are 3-7 and virtually a lock to miss the playoffs.
Even with Hillis having a monster season, the Browns just aren't getting as many wins as they should be.
It's great that they can keep games close, but McCoy is 2-3 as a starter, and that isn't an impressive stat.
Until they prove that they can go on a significant winning streak, I'm not buying this backfield as the Browns' future.
I am convinced that McCoy and Hillis can lead the Browns to a serious turnaround. But I'm not convinced that they can be anything more than decent players on a decent team.
There's no way the Browns are winning a Super Bowl (or coming close) with these two as their franchise cornerstones.
So if Cleveland wants to rise into mediocrity and stay there, it should stick with McCoy and Hillis. But if not, it should use its high draft pick and take a quarterback like Stanford's Andrew Luck, if it gets the chance. And pick up a running back later in the draft or through free agency, one with enough explosiveness to complement Hillis' strengths.
With Luck and an explosive youngster like Jacquizz Rodgers teaming up with Hillis, the Browns could be contenders within the next two or three years.
But with the conservative McCoy and nonexplosive Hillis alone, the Browns will never have a shot at a title.
What do you think?
Are McCoy and Hillis the long-term answers for the Browns?
Voice your opinion in the comments.
Matt Rudnitsky is a student at the University of Michigan and a Featured Columnist/writing intern at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Mattrud.