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Colt McCoy: Are Eric Mangini and Cleveland Browns Hiding a Serious Injury?

Brian DiTullioSenior Writer INovember 23, 2010

Colt McCoy: Are Eric Mangini and Cleveland Browns Hiding a Serious Injury?

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Colt McCoy has become the third Cleveland Browns quarterback to suffer an ankle injury in the 2010 season, and it's becoming a rerun every Cleveland fan is getting sick and tired of seeing.

    Following in the hobbled footsteps of Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, McCoy limped off the field on Sunday and left the stadium in a walking boot.

    At Monday's press conference, Head Coach Eric Mangini confirmed the ankle had been "sprained," but didn't say if it was a high sprain or a low sprain. At least he's not characterizing it as an "eensie-weensie break."

    Mangini also said Delhomme is "100 percent," but refused to name a starter for this Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers.

    While not naming a starter is about as far from a surprise as you can get, saying how healthy Delhomme is actually qualifies as "news" from Mangini.

    This begs the question, are the Browns hiding a serious injury to their new star rookie quarterback?

    This is very possible, not that hiding it is a bad thing, but let's look at 10 reasons why the Browns could be hiding something from the public.

10. Mangini Is Playing His Usual Game of Charades

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    If there's one thing Eric Mangini loves to do, it's not tell anyone who's starting at quarterback.

    Since there's no doubt McCoy is injured, this opens the door for Mangini to be cryptic.

    But Mangini can use his usual game of Cloak and Dagger to mask a serious injury to the future of the franchise.

9. Jake Delhomme's Contract

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    If McCoy is injured seriously enough that Mangini can't even have him on the sidelines as a backup, starting Delhomme gives Mangini a buffer between another injury and McCoy since Wallace would be the next quarterback on the depth chart.

    Plus, Delhomme signed a rather large contract, $7 million in 2010, to be the starting quarterback for the Browns this year.

8. The Offensive Line Is Depleted

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    The Browns lost right guard Billy Yates in the Jets game, and his loss probably is one of the main reasons McCoy got the sack that caused his injury.

    With three quarterbacks suffering the same injury, they know that whatever quarterback they throw out there has a higher risk of suffering an even more serious injury.

    If McCoy is even only slightly injured, the Browns may be going into "protection" mode until the offensive line can get better.

7. The Panthers Aren't That Great of a Team

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    It's no mystery the Carolina Panthers are pretty bad this year. They won't have a good pass rush and even nursing an ankle injury, McCoy would be pretty effective.

    So if the Browns don't want to start McCoy this Sunday, one theory to spin out of this is that McCoy's injury is very serious.

6. McCoy Serves the Team's Long Term Needs Better

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    If the Browns are considering starting Delhomme, then that can only mean McCoy's injury is pretty bad, and the MRI he had Monday afternoon was just to determine the extent of the damage.

    You don't bring back a 35-year old quarterback with issues over McCoy or Wallace unless you're pretty sure McCoy isn't going to even be able to dress.

5. Mangini Is Covering for Mistakes

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Browns offense only managed three points off five turnovers on Sunday. They had 10 points off six total, but the defense returned one of those turnovers for a touchdown.

    With that big of an offensive fail, and the fact McCoy was injured at the beginning of the second half, it seems logical that Mangini would try and cover up the severity of the injury to cover what may have been bad judgment in leaving McCoy in the game in the first place.

4. Offensive Gameplanning

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    The Browns gameplan on Sunday was pretty much garbage. The whole plan seemed to be to hand the ball off to Peyton Hillis, even when it became obvious that wasn't working.

    So the team never made any adjustments, and then they were forced to throw the ball in situations where the defense knew it was coming.

    Since the offensive line couldn't stop the Jaguars, McCoy was sacked six times. So once again, bad coaching can be said to be a major contributing factor to McCoy's injury, and the coaches and front office probably don't want to admit their culpability in the situation.

3. Seneca Is the Better Choice

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    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    Granted Delhomme only has one healthy half of football under his belt with Cleveland, but the offense moved great under Wallace, and if you have a weak offensive line now, you need to have a quarterback who is mobile.

    While we can run down the list of Delhomme's virtues, mobility no longer is one of them.

2. Is This Mangini Trying To Save His Job?

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    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    Let's look at the bigger picture here.

    1. The Browns now have lost five games this season in the fourth quarter (or in overtime).

    2. Even with how good McCoy looked, the Browns wide receivers are practically invisible.

    3. Admitting you left your best quarterback in the game after he was injured, and then making that injury worse (as has been theorized) would lead one to think Mangini may be in job-saving mode now.

    Mangini will start the quarterback that he feels gives them the best chance to win. Even injured, McCoy really has shown he is that guy. That's really hard to debate at this point.

    But if he's seriously injured, then that forces Mangini's hand.

1. Mike Holmgren Knows the Value of Hope

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    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    Mike Holmgren is the team president, and hasn't been shy about telling everyone it was his decision to take McCoy in the third round.

    Mangini coaches the team, and Holmgren also has been adamant about letting Mangini do his job. But when it comes to McCoy, you can believe every decision is run up the flagpole.

    If McCoy's injury is serious, it makes sense to hide the injury not only from the other team, but from the rabid Cleveland fanbase who already are running out and buying his jerseys.

    Holmgren knows you have to give the fans reason to hope, and as long as they think McCoy may only be out a few weeks, they'll hold out hope Delhomme and Wallace can beat the Panthers, Dolphins, Bills and Bengals before they have to navigate the Bunkers at Normandy manned by the Ravens and Steelers. 

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