Cleveland Browns: Why Colt McCoy Deserves to Be the Starting Quarterback in 2012

Brian MurtaughAnalyst IDecember 20, 2011

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 08:  Colt McCoy #12 of the Cleveland Browns looks to pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 8, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns quarterback dilemma is one that has been at the forefront of the franchise since their return to football in 1999.

Cleveland has sent 17 different starting quarterbacks into the fire since that season, and none have come out with any type of success to be able to rally around for the future. However, Browns fans hope that Colt McCoy has changed that trend for the better, and that the franchise is moving towards an upswing under his direction.

The Browns have gone 6-15 under McCoy since he began starting games in the 2010-2011 season, but his statistics indicate that he has played better than every quarterback the Browns have had in the last 12 seasons.

But, even with that poor record, has McCoy earned the right to start at quarterback for the 2012 season?

Out of the 17 quarterbacks Cleveland has had over the past decade, eight posted a worse overall winning percentage than McCoy currently has in a Browns uniform. In fact, five of those quarterbacks never won a game despite a combined 11 starts over the course of their Cleveland careers.

McCoy not only has beaten some of the league's best teams like the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints, but has kept the Browns close in every contest they have played over the last season.

McCoy's passing numbers also indicate that he is not as bad as some of his critics like to claim. So far in 2011, McCoy has thrown for more passing yards than players like Mike Vick, Matt Shaub, Kevin Kolb and Sam Bradford. Now, it is important to mention that all of those quarterbacks have missed time to injury this season, including McCoy, but it is an impressive stat nonetheless.

McCoy is also ranked as the 18th overall quarterback in the NFL in touchdown passes with 14, while tied for seventh in the NFL in times sacked with 32. McCoy is ranked 18th in the NFL in passing yardage, which would be the second highest a Browns quarterback has finished since the 2002 regular season (Derek Anderson ranked ninth in 2007).

The biggest knock fans and the media have had on McCoy is his inability to help the Browns score points and move down the field. However, it is important to remember that Cleveland has offered McCoy zero help during the 2011 season and have posted some of their worst positional numbers in the last decade.

Cleveland's top running back, Peyton Hillis, is ranked 43rd in the NFL in rushing yards for the 2011 season and is tied for 35th in rushing touchdowns. Cleveland has not had a worse leading rusher since Terry Kirby in 1999, and even he finished that season with three more touchdowns than Hillis currently has.

Cleveland's veteran receivers have also been less than impressive, as they have been clearly outplayed by rookie Greg Little in every game despite Little's dropped passes and inexperience.

All of these factors make it clear to see that Cleveland is expecting too much out of McCoy without giving him the proper tools to succeed.

The Browns have built a reputation out of wasting quarterback talents over the past 12 seasons, and it is time the franchise let a young talent develop before they kick him to the curb. McCoy has shown that he has the ability to win games in the NFL, but needs help in order to get the Browns where the want to be.

If Cleveland can get quality players to surround McCoy for the 2012 season, there may be some significantly different results to talk about when next season comes to a close.

But for now, McCoy deserves a shot to carry the franchise for another season and work to become the quarterback the Cleveland fanbase wants him to become.