After a great amount of speculation, I've realized that No. 12 Colt McCoy is the guy.
Not just because of his 9-10 performance tonight against a Woodson- and Bigby-less defense, but for reasons that date back to last season, back to his time at the University of Texas and back to Browns quarterbacks before his arrival. Some of these reasons aren't even tangible, or relating to football.
But as a skeptic of all skeptics of Browns quarterbacks, thanks to Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb, Doug Pederson, Trent Dilfer, Spergeon Wynn and Brady Quinn to name a few, it's amazing for me to think that for the first time since 1999 the Browns have a quarterback who is the face of the franchise.
Colt McCoy is a leader.
I don't think the Browns have had a true leader at quarterback since they came back to Cleveland in '99.
Every quarterback can be linked to a leadership role, simply because they are the most important player on the field. But Colt is a different breed—a true breed of leader.
Browns tight end Benjamin Watson once told a story that I think exemplified Colt's leadership. In an interview on the NFL Network, Watson was asked how Colt carried himself in the huddle. After a few of the typical comments about poise and what not, Watson said:
It's funny. One day at practice Colt threw a ball and it bounced off of a receiver's hands or body, or something, and Colt was screaming at him 'Come on rookie, you've gotta make that play', and meanwhile Colt is the rookie. He's just that kind of leader.
I could talk about all of his victories as a Longhorn and what not, but I think that's what sums up Colt the best. He's got that specific attitude—that specific mindset that every leader has.
Again, the Browns have not had a truly accurate quarterback since 1999.
Sure, they've had guys with huge arms, a la Derek Anderson, and guys who are smart, a la Brady Quinn, but they've never had a guy who was known for his accuracy. In a league marked by tight-throwing windows and West Coast systems, accuracy is absolutely essential for a successful quarterback.
McCoy may not have the strongest of arms, he may not even have a strong arm, but especially in Shurmur's West Coast offensive system, McCoy's accuracy is going to help him to excel.
Growing up in Ho-Dunk, Texas (Tuscola), which I'm sure is a lovely town and I don't mean any offense by calling it "Ho-Dunk," gives Colt the idea of what the life of a blue collar town is like.
Colt wasn't raised in the back woods of Oregon, nor by the beaches in Florida. He was raised in a place where you had to work for everything you got—where there were people there to lift you up when you're down, and keep you grounded when you got too high.
Although there have been many California pretty-boy quarterbacks who were successful in the NFL, the Browns need a blue-collar guy to be "the guy" for them.
What on earth does Ben Watson have to do with Colt McCoy?
Watson sees something in McCoy that not many average NFL players can see. He sees promise. He sees the talent. He sees "the guy."
But it's Watson who is going to help make McCoy "the guy."
From the first snap McCoy took as a Cleveland Brown, McCoy had an instant and special connection with Watson. He was able to hit Watson over the middle, and all over the field. Having an amazing tight end and mentor like Watson is only going to help Colt McCoy mold into the champion Watson is used to seeing.
The West Coast Offense is the perfect system for Colt McCoy.
With an accurate, but not incredibly powerful, arm along with decent agility, McCoy is perfectly suited to run this offense.
The West Coast system is suited for quarterbacks able to hit quick throws while in the pocket and on the run, and these are the kinds of throws that Colt McCoy can most efficiently make.
Never before have the Browns had a name like Mike Holmgren to select their quarterback of the future.
A guy who worked in the West Coast system, very successfully, Holmgren knew exactly who he wanted to be the quarterback to run it. Holmgren wouldn't have picked McCoy if he didn't think Colt could do the job, and do the job with championship quality.
Bottomline: Holmgren knows exactly what he's doing, and by putting his trust in McCoy, the entire Browns community, including fans, coaches and players, should put their trust in McCoy as well.
Sam Bradford. Really? This guy has nothing to do with Colt, the Browns, or anything.
While at the Manning Passing Academy a few years back, I witnessed an unusual combination, day in and day out. My counselor, Sam Bradford (I know, pretty cool I have to admit), rode with Colt McCoy in a golf cart to every event of the day. Breakfast, practice, lunch, practice and dinner, they were always together. It continued to puzzle me. These guys were huge rivals in college, how could they be friends?
And then it hit me. These guys drew off of each other. They made each other better.
This relationship continues even today. This offseason, McCoy and Bradford were often communicating. Bradford was teaching Colt the ins and outs of Shurmur's offensive, from their time together in St. Louis, and Colt was teaching Bradford the ways of Mangini, who stemmed from the same tree as St. Louis offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Much the same way that Bradford is the future in Saint Louis, Colt is the future in Cleveland, and both will continue to help each other grow into elite quarterbacks who will eventually lead elite teams.
The Browns defense is going to help groom McCoy as he continues to grow as a quarterback.
Usually, bad teams have bad defenses and throw in young quarterbacks to see what they can do. In the case of the Browns, they have a defense with a ton of potential and a quarterback who was used simply out of necessity, thanks to Delhomme and Wallace's ankle problems.
With a good defense, the Browns offense has much less pressure to perform at an elite level to win football games. They have the defense to give them support if things aren't always going according to plan. In other words, if Colt is struggling a bit, the defense can help pick him up and keep him and the offense in games.
Less pressure and the opportunity to be competitive in more games is going to help Colt McCoy to develop into the best quarterback he can be.
Sure, Sam Bradford has a bit more talent and is a bit more developed than Colt McCoy, but a great part of his success is due to his former offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
When searching for a head coach for the Browns, Mike Holmgren kept Colt McCoy in the front of his mind. That's exactly why he chose Pat Shurmur.
Many of us Browns fans were scratching our heads and wondering who in the world Pat Shurmur was. With rumors of Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden and many others swirling around, Pat Shurmur was a bit of a surprise. But again, Holmgren picked Shurmur because he knew Shurmur was the guy Colt McCoy needed. He knew Shurmur ran a West Coast system, and had dealt with many young quarterbacks in the past. He didn't need a big name, he just needed the right guy for Colt and the rest of the Browns.
As long as Pat Shurmur is around in Cleveland, Colt McCoy is going to progress.
A quarterback's best friend is a good running game. This is something the Browns definitely had last season.
With the Madden 12 cover boy in the backfield, McCoy is under much less heat than he normally would be. Defenses will have to prepare just as much for the Browns running attack as they will for McCoy and the pass game, instead of putting all preparation on McCoy and letting a terrible rush game sputter all over itself.
Peyton Hillis' emergence could not have come at a better time for McCoy, as he continues to learn. With an intimidating running attack, opposing defenses will have less time to hone in on attacking Colt.
We've heard this one before, but Colt is a winner.
A four-year starter at Texas, McCoy was able to win a lot of games for the Burnt Orange and White. Even back in his high school days, Colt was leading his team into the state playoffs. The guy just knows how to flat-out win.
I know what you're thinking, "But Vince Young was a winner...and look what he has gone through." Vince Young is definitely a bit of a nut case, something Colt is not, but even with all of his issues, Vince Young STILL wins games. There's just something about these guys that you can't find in many quarterbacks. They just win games.
Colt McCoy will continue his winning ways as a Cleveland Brown for many years to come.
Heck, the guy beat the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints in back-to-back weeks as a rookie! As a ROOKIE!
Something just clicked.
The minute I saw him on TV while watching the draft, I knew something about Colt McCoy and the Cleveland Browns just go together.
This has nothing to do with Colt McCoy the football player. It's just a feeling—a feeling I've never had before. A pride I've never felt with a Browns quarterback. As excited as I was when the Browns drafted Brady Quinn, a hometown guy, a Browns fan, it just wasn't there. I could feel it a little more with D.A. It seemed like a better fit, but it still wasn't there.
This reason isn't really a reason, and for that I'm sorry, but Cleveland is the place for Colt. Had he gone elsewhere, I don't know if he'd be anything but another third-round back-up.
The way he spoke about his pride and his excitement about joining the Browns, it just felt right. He is one of the only athletes I've ever seen who was genuinely excited about coming to Cleveland. I was proud of him from the first time I saw him in the Brown and Orange. Even if he never played a down, he just belongs in that uniform. He's lucky. Some players never get to the wear that uniform they would excel in.
I hope Colt McCoy is a Brown until he retires, because Cleveland is where he is going to be "our quarterback."
Cleveland is exactly where Colt McCoy belongs.