I once wrote about how Colt McCoy wouldn’t be a successful NFL quarterback because he doesn’t look like a successful NFL quarterback. He doesn’t pass my eye test, even though I know that’s a ridiculous thing on which to base something. I do think Brandon Weeden has a better look, but it’s only because he’s bigger and older and you can’t see his red hair while he’s wearing a helmet.
But the eye test goes deeper than that. My difficult question came in the form of an email from my grandmother, who is a wonderful human but sometimes doesn’t grasp all the intricacies of the National Football League. She saw the stats through three preseason games and McCoy’s numbers were better than Weeden’s. She asked me how they can justify keeping Weeden as the starter, other than to make the management feel like they made the right choice.
My first thought was “You don’t quite get it, Grandma.” I started running through how McCoy had an entire season to show his worth, how his subpar stats in 2011 were probably better than they should have been due to a lot of garbage-time touchdowns, and how the team was basically a collection of disappointment for most of last season. I mentioned how McCoy played his preseason snaps against the second-string defenses of most teams (with a second-string offense, but still, he has the experience of being a starter). I mentioned how Weeden brings a different dimension to the offense; even if he misses downfield throws, the threat is at least there. I of course mentioned that the preseason games are almost meaningless as well.
I believe all of those things I said. The preseason games are meaningless.
They don’t have to be. I know that the point is to get out of there with your guys intact, but what about when your starting quarterback and wide receivers are not on the same page? Why not keep them in longer or have them play in the fourth preseason game? I know. It’s all a risk. The reason is surely that they would have rather kept Weeden in the red jersey as he continues to sync up with the receivers, but experience against a team that is not the Browns seems like it would be much more helpful in his development, doesn’t it? Maybe I’m wrong. But it’s not like Weeden has shown us that he can do anything other than throw the ball faster and farther than McCoy. That’s nice, but it’s not working yet.
But the question from my grandmother still stands. If McCoy is performing better…why isn’t he starting? Last season was last season. Things change and players improve. It couldn’t possibly hurt McCoy to have had a full offseason with his receivers. Plus, he got to know them a little bit during last season, right?
Most quarterbacks don’t come out in their first season and dominate. Some do (thanks for ruining Christmas, Cam Newton), but most aren’t bulletproof out of the gate. Maybe McCoy has improved more than we think. Maybe this preseason was more telling than we’d like to admit. Maybe the management feels like McCoy had his chance and now they have to give Weeden a year of his own, even if he’s currently not as good as McCoy but the team thinks he can become better. In fact, I wouldn’t put that too far out of reach.
In a season that wouldn’t end with a Super Bowl appearance either way, is it crazy to think that the Browns are pushing a rookie quarterback out there in the hope that it’s feast or famine? If Weeden starts all 16 games and falters, the Browns have their answer in lucky quarterback No. 82,935,982, Matt Barkley. If he puts up decent numbers, wins a few games, and shows a little moxie, then the future is answered and Weeden stays under center for the foreseeable future.
Obviously I’m not going to practice every day. But doesn’t it seem like the guy who is performing the best should be on the field?
Of course, wouldn’t it be nice to see a 4-vert route now and then?