At 3-4, the Cleveland Browns are looking as mediocre as any Orange and Brown squad in recent memory. This team isn’t a bottom-of-the-barrell team by any stretch; their defense, as we all know, is one of the top units in the league. But their offense… man. Watching Colt McCoy try to rally that anemic crew down the field is an exercise in patience. Make no mistake: this never was a playoff team. This is still very much a work in progress.
Expectations tempered accordingly, the question needs to be asked: what, really, do the Browns have with McCoy? Bill Simmons recently rated him as the 40th-best QB in the league, stating:
“About three weeks ago, I realized that Colt was a career backup with an awesome name and a strange peace settled over me. You will see Ron Washington trust Darren Oliver and Scott Feldman with a World Series title again before you see me betting on Colt McCoy.”
Well, then. Personal dissatisfaction with Simmons aside, my gut reaction was “Damn, he’s absolutely right.” As easy as it is to get suckered into the romance of the idea of McCoy (aptly-named gunslinger from Texas coming in to save a downtrodden franchise), the on-field product has been so average it hurts. Not terrible enough to get your team blown out, but nowhere near the level of play that will win you more than eight games.
Is that a fair analysis? Really, how much time should a quarterback be given before its time to declare “Okay, enough is enough, let’s lick our wounds and toss Seneca Wallace into the fray until the season is over?”
To be fair: the Browns’ offensive line is playing well below last season’s effort. As such, the run game is suffering, highlighted by Peyton Hillis putting his own spin on the Madden Curse. And the team’s receivers? It’s in vogue to say that Greg Little will be a playmaker moving forward, but, as it stands, the receiving corps is an invitation for defensive backs to take prep week off. Josh Cribbs isn’t scaring anyone.
As such, defenses gladly stack seven or eight men in the box, wreaking havoc on the running game and smothering McCoy. To judge Colt McCoy for the way that he’s been playing is easy, but is it fair? No, it isn’t.
That being said, do we have any reason to believe that the final product will look much better than what we’re currently seeing? I may look like a fool down the road, but I say yes.
At this stage in his career, he isn’t Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. He can’t turn Brian Robiskie into a star. But think back to when the top quarterbacks in the league were plodding along; remember how much flack Drew Brees caught in his early days in San Diego? People wanted his head on a stick after his first three years.
That being said, McCoy could completely flame out. But, if there’s one thing a young quarterback needs, it’s support from his club and his fan base. Let McCoy take his bumps and bruises. Put the pitchforks and torches away. Until the Browns get McCoy some legitimate talent to work with, judgement this harsh should not be cast.