While Cleveland Browns management won’t necessarily come right out and say that quarterback Colt McCoy is the team’s starter in 2011, it would seem downright foolish if he isn’t when the season starts (whenever that may be).
It is obviously the hope of the team and fans everywhere that McCoy and the Browns get off to a strong start, but what if that’s not the case? What if the Browns struggle out of the gate and McCoy looks nothing more than a potential retread of the seemingly endless list of quarterbacks who have been deemed the answer at the position?
A scenario like that makes one wonder what kind of leash McCoy might be on during the 2011 season. Seneca Wallace is a capable back-up, and if McCoy completely bombs through, say, the halfway point of the season, it will put the team in a very difficult position for a number of reasons.
The obvious cause for concern would rest with what to do with McCoy the rest of the season if he fails early on a game-by-game basis. Given the Browns’ plans for rebuilding, it would seem likely that they would give the young quarterback a number of chances to try and prove himself, or to try to dig himself out of adversity with a weak receiving corps.
But there is something else that will be hanging over the heads of the Browns in 2011 and that’s the 2012 NFL Draft, specifically the #1 overall pick. At this point, it’s a foregone conclusion that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, about as “can’t miss” a prospect as you will ever see, will be chosen first. If the Browns spiral down into oblivion, there will be an opportunity to draft Luck.
Does that mean the Browns give up on Colt McCoy after only one season? And what do you do if he plays relatively well and the opportunity to draft Luck is still there? The Browns are going to have to determine this season if McCoy is a quarterback that can lead them to a Super Bowl – it’s a decision that will affect the franchise for years to come.
The best the Browns can hope for is that McCoy performs on either extreme end of the scale – either well beyond expectations to solidify his stronghold on the position or drastically below expectations to make moving on that much easier. If McCoy is average – and it could be hard not to be in the current state of the offense – the Browns will have a wrenching decision to make.
They can’t keep chasing quarterback prospects forever. Sooner or later, the Browns will have to make a commitment to somebody. Whether it’s Colt McCoy or someone else is what remains to be seen.