When Colt McCoy took the field last year, there was a spark. It was hard to define, but he seemed to have that “it” quality that we haven’t seen in a Cleveland Browns quarterback for far too long.
Where our passing game had been limited to running backs and tight ends, all of a sudden we noticed wide receivers running down the field. The Browns developed a swagger that saw the team knock off New Orleans and New England and take the New York Jets to overtime.
In short, he made everyone around him better.
This year, McCoy looks like a quarterback searching for answers, and his inability to lead his team into the end zone is drawing attention to his less than imposing physical skills. The Browns offense seems to be confined to a maddening series of short passes and check downs.
To make matters worse, although statistically he has about the same completion percentage as last year, it’s hard to ignore the off-target throws. It’s reminiscent of the worst of Brady Quinn.
In short, we hear that McCoy can’t make the players around him better.
So which is it? That’s what has me perhaps slightly less confused this morning than McCoy himself who admitted to not remembering the hit laid on him by James Harrison last night.
We’re all painfully aware of the lack of talent that McCoy is working with, or not working with as the case may be.
You can also say that the play-calling has been, at best, predictable. You can talk about the drops and the lack of a running game. To not talk about those things means you don’t really understand how hard it is to play the position with the best of talent.
But what also cannot be ignored that whereas last year Colt McCoy seemed to make mostly the right decisions, this year he seems to be making bad decisions at critical times. This is not good for a quarterback whose head was always considered to be the factor that would make up for his lack of “measurables”.
Which leads me to the conclusion that Colt is thinking too much. He’s learning a new offense that relies on precise timing between a quarterback and his receivers. But it’s hard to develop timing with receivers who are not healthy (Mohammed Massaquoi) or receivers who don’t run precise routes (Josh Cribbs).
A West Coast Offense also relies on trust. But it’s hard to develop trusts when your receivers lead the team in drops.
Maybe it’s because he didn’t have the benefit of a real offseason. Or maybe it’s because of the physical beating he’s taken this year, but Colt McCoy seems to have neither the timing with his receivers or the trust that they can make the plays.
You can almost see him thinking about where to put the ball, which leads to aiming instead of throwing. His best throws seem to be when he just lets it rip. Of course, I say that with the realization that Derek Anderson threw some of the prettiest interceptions you’ll ever see.
It also leads me to say that it’s time for McCoy to sit. No, this is not a proclamation that the Browns need to draft a quarterback. It’s an observation that there is nothing more for McCoy to learn this year. There’s nothing more that Pat Shurmur or Mike Holmgren need to evaluate. They know what they’ve got, and who they want.
At 4-9, it’s time to let McCoy grab a clipboard and watch a few games. It’s not about creating a quarterback controversy, the Browns have had too many of those. It’s about protecting a player from himself. Because as well-meaning as McCoy is, he may be part of the problem right now.