“You’ve got to win games like this,” McCoy told reporters after the Browns stumbled through a 19-17 loss.
After saying the team lacked energy and intensity, McCoy accepted responsibility (“that stems from me”), but also shared it: “…that stems from the older guys on this team, and it stems from all of us coming together and really playing with a lot of energy and a lot of focus.”
So it has come to this: A rookie quarterback, who wasn’t supposed to play a down this season, is emerging as the starter and is bold enough to speak up about his team’s lackluster effort.
I don’t know if there’s an unspoken code that rookies shouldn’t do that, since such a code would be, well, unspoken.
I do know that somebody needed to say it, and I like the fact that McCoy was the one who did.
There’s something about this kid that’s easy to like. He enters a huddle like he’s in charge. He brings a team to the line with fire in his eyes. He executes plays like a veteran.
His unexpected audition for the Browns quarterback job has been successful by any measuring stick. Sunday’s postgame comments only served to confirm that fact.
He wasn’t pointing fingers. He was offering a candid assessment of a fatal flaw in the team’s character that must be eliminated if they are to take the next step on the road to becoming a playoff-caliber team. He started with himself and continued from there.
That’s what you want in a leader. The Browns have had precious few players in the 12 years since their return to the league who have demonstrated as much with their words and actions.
McCoy has now done both. In so doing, he has claimed this team as his own.
It remains to be seen if Mike Holmgren agrees. The offseason will bring with it many challenges, and probably more than a few changes. Some talented quarterbacks will tempt the Browns president come draft time.
That is out of McCoy’s control. Meanwhile, he’s controlled the things that he can and he’s taken control of the things that were up for grabs.
I like that. McCoy has emerged as the brightest of bright spots in this perplexing season. His words on Sunday served to confirm that fact.