I’ll start this article by stating that I have been a Colt McCoy supporter since the moment the Cleveland Browns drafted him in the third round in 2010. In fact, I was in panic mode when they didn’t take him in the second round with the pick that became Montario Hardesty because I didn’t think he would last until pick No. 85. McCoy was the quarterback I wanted the Browns to pick leading up to the 2010 draft so I was very pleased he made it here, and even more so that when pressed into duty he showed flashes of promise.
With that said, I find I have to ask myself after Sunday’s loss to the Oakland Raiders – Is Colt McCoy regressing? Where has the accuracy and poise gone that we saw behind a supposedly less-talented and offensively archaic squad in 2010? With the exception of the Indianapolis game, McCoy has failed to consistently deliver crisp, accurate passes with the game still in question. This week there were a number of attempts well off the mark, even to his most reliable target, tight end Ben Watson.
Perhaps the most disheartening observation I had during the Raiders game was that for the first time, McCoy did not exhibit the moxie, good pocket presence, timing or elusiveness when the protection broke down that has given many fans hope. On just the second play from scrimmage McCoy failed to deliver a pass to an open Mohamed Massaquoi on the left side with pressure applied by an Oakland blitz. The young quarterback frankly looked skittish…on the second play from scrimmage? Why the happy feet all of a sudden? Passes Colt McCoy seemed to be able to complete in his sleep (namely the tight end crossing route) are suddenly behind the target, or worse.
Right now everything on the Browns offense feels forced, as though Pat Shurmur is desperately trying to drive the proverbial square peg in a round hole. One has to wonder if that is part of the equation when it comes to McCoy’s struggles of late. Fans and media alike are dumbfounded to understand why dynamic playmakers like Peyton Hillis, Josh Cribbs, Greg Little and Evan Moore are not more involved in the weekly game plans (though it seems Little was finally featured Sunday with six catches). With each passing game it would seem that Shurmur is unable to mesh his offensive scheme with the personnel on hand.
This is of great concern, as any successful coach needs to be able to dial up the right plays to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers. Coach Shurmur needs to check his love affair with the passing game and realize that the most successful West Coast offenses are very adept at running the ball. For the Browns to turn the ship around offensively they need to game plan 25+ carries to balance out 25-30 passes. Considering the general lack of weapons and McCoy’s development in only his second season, passing 40+ times per game is a recipe for certain disaster.
Bringing the focus back to Colt McCoy, I still believe he can be a successful quarterback in the NFL. His leadership and intangibles are too good to not succeed. I just hope playing through this most recent Browns rebuilding project doesn’t ruin him first.