It would be a lie if just about any one said that they aren’t surprised at how well the Browns rookie Quarter Back is performing. Colt is playing extremely well, extremely poised, for a rookie thrown into starting duties after the two veterans ahead of him were benched. Not only is he playing like a person with years of experience, he is doing it against 3 of the best teams in the league. While he lost his opening start to the Steelers, he was not the reason the game was lost. The Steelers outplayed the Browns. The following week, the Super Bowl Champion Saints hosted the Browns and their rookie QB, and while McCoy didn’t do much to help the team win, he didn’t do anything to make them lose, as the Browns defense and special teams led an amazing charge that shocked the Champs. The Browns beat the Saints, to the surprise of the NFL world.
Up next for the rookie and the Browns was the best-record wielding bully New England Patriots, a team that has been the class of the NFL for years. Led by Tom Brady the Patriots visited Cleveland and former defensive coach Eric Mangini. Mangini and McCoy were ready for the challenge, the Browns defense and special teams brought it once again, and McCoy and Peyton Hillis led the Browns offense. McCoy made an amazing scramble for a 16 yard td, he didn’t turn the ball over, he played smart, he hit open receivers and made great reads. McCoy once again looked like a veteran. He took advantage of a youthful and overly aggressive Patriots defense, and while the Browns defense and running game is ultimately what won the game, McCoy’s performance certainly did help.
With two big wins under his belt and the return of health of Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme the Browns are facing a tough choice. Do they alienate two veterans and risk many veteran players becoming upset, or do you put in Delhomme or Wallace despite the success of the young QB. Clearly I am no NFL strategist or coach, just a fan who knows what he sees. Colt McCoy has been impressive. I have heard many people saying that he looks a lot like Tom Brady, with a strong arm, good vision and ability to extend and make plays with his legs. This is certainly a lofty comparison, but it is not without it’s merits. McCoy has faced 3 of the leagues (arguably) best QB’s in his 3 starts and has looked better than all of them. He saw a monstrous Steelers defense, a smart and aggressive Saints defense and a violent and fast Patriots defense. He stared them all down, made his passes and his plays and managed to not make mistakes. Impressive enough that he didn’t make mistakes, but to play against Brady, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlesberger and play more or less to their level is impressive.
I think it is the best interest of the Browns to keep McCoy in as the starter for the rest of the season. Let him grow into his role as a franchise QB and grow as the offensive unit does. If you put him back on the bench and the team struggles the rest of the season he will take a hit developmentally. Why not let him lead a team that is shocking the NFL with it’s effort and aggressiveness? The Browns defense is arguably one of the better units in the league, and the special teams led by Josh Cribbs is probably one of the best as well. With the impressive running of Peyton Hillis and the further growth of a young, talented QB the pressure could be taken off of the mostly talent-devoid receiving corps. As McCoy develops he will make his receivers look better, so why not let him grow and get confidence and chemistry with the team rather than putting in Delhomme who lacked any chemistry in his first game, or Wallace who while he seemed like he fit the role, just doesn’t have the arm strength or high ceiling that McCoy does. So while it might be a tough choice for Mangini, Holmgren and Heckert, I think it is the right one to let McCoy run the show. If he can perform well with a bad receiving unit, imagine what he could do when the team puts in playmakers around him. The offensive line is good, they can keep him upright, and the ground game can keep teams from putting too much pressure on him. It is actually a really good situation for a young QB to be in, because he can be the established QB and team leader when the team looks to add young, fast, receivers in the next year or two. Regardless, in his college career and in 3 pro games, he has shown that he is a winner, and he makes good decisions, something that has not always been evident in the play of Wallace and Delhomme.