As the impending expiration of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement looms like a dark cloud over the immediate future of the NFL, fans don't hesitate to indulge one another with hypothetical trades to improve their teams, as though the offseason were proceeding with normalcy.
For Cleveland Browns fans, sometimes the best move is the one never made.
Anyone perusing opinionated articles on quarterbacks' potential 2011 offseason destinations can attest to at least one article linking a talented, veteran quarterback to the Cleveland Browns.
Just one problem—the Browns already have their answer at quarterback.
In the third round of last year's NFL draft, the Cleveland Brown brain-trust of Tom Heckert, Mike Holmgren, and Eric Mangini selected Colt McCoy, a quarterback out of Texas who lacked arm strength and height, but brought pinpoint accuracy and a winning attitude.
McCoy is more than just a young backup quarterback—he's a long-term solution.
After Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme went down during the 2010 season, McCoy had to step up after being told that he wouldn't see any time on the field in his rookie season. The young signal-caller answered the call of duty, admirably managing games and avoiding a debilitating amount of turnovers.
McCoy rode breakout running back Peyton Hillis to wins in big games against the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots, teams that combined for a regular season record of 25-7, and the quarterback and running back duo helped to change the losing mindset in Cleveland.
After the season, Mike Holmgren showed how much he values a winning attitude, releasing a player in Shaun Rogers who was talented but has been on losing teams for his career. Holmgren also let go of Eric Mangini, a coach who barely kept his job after a well-timed winning streak at the end of 2009.
In Mangini's place, Holmgren hired Pat Shurmur, a former offensive coordinator on the St. Louis Rams who worked with young quarterback Sam Bradford to bring the Rams to a respectable 7-9 record despite a dearth of talent at receiver.
Last year, Shurmur provided Bradford with an easy offense to master. Using the talented Steven Jackson on many play fakes, Shurmur was able to get Bradford open looks in the flats. The Oklahoma product was able to take home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Now, it's McCoy's turn to embark upon Shurmur's offensive path. Though a year behind Bradford in development, McCoy can still thrive in Shurmur's offense. Look for a healthy amount of play fakes to Peyton Hillis in the upcoming season, and watch McCoy's completion percentage raise a significant deal higher.
With McCoy's leadership skills, he should have no problem leading the lowly Browns to success in the future. Remember, McCoy was the winningest quarterback in NCAA Division I history.
Though his height may lead some to question his ability to hold down the quarterback position, as McCoy doesn't have prototypical quarterback size at 6'1", the second-year pro out of Texas can make all the throws he has to.
He isn't a guy who can push the ball down the field, but the Browns' offense will become predicated around short gains on the ground and through the air, churning out yards and nickel-and-diming defenses down the field.
Also, McCoy is an athletic quarterback who is shifty in the open field. The Texas product isn't afraid to take off and make a play with his legs, helping the Browns offense to have an added dimension of excitement and surprise. McCoy can certainly scramble, and his willingness to run to open spaces and make throws on the move opens up the field for Cleveland.
McCoy has young receivers around him, such as Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie, and a helpful veteran guy in Josh Cribbs. It is also a very realistic possibility that the Browns bring in a number one target for McCoy, such as AJ Green in the draft or any of the young, talented receivers set to test the free agent waters.
Mike Holmgren didn't bring in McCoy and demand that he sit behind veterans and learn the offense just so that the young signal-caller could be a career backup. Colt McCoy has brought a winning atmosphere to Cleveland.
In a division where the ruthless Ravens and Steelers' defenses punish quarterbacks in the AFC North for four games in a given year, the Browns (and Bengals, but that's a different matter) need a young quarterback who can outlast the careers of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, Casey Hampton, etc.
Colt McCoy can do just that.
McCoy, Peyton Hillis, and whomever the Browns call their receivers next year should be ready to make an impact in the AFC North. While Browns fans may have to wait a couple of years to see true success, taking the time to develop McCoy as an NFL passer is certainly worth it.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The Browns quarterback situation is fine the way it is.
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