Price of the Browns’ Rebuilding Efforts Will Cost You Colt McCoy


I have been critical of Colt McCoy from the beginning. I watch the NFL Red Zone channel and I know what I see. Every other quarterback in the league has a better arm than he does, save perhaps Tim Tebow.

Note to self  – Anytime you hear someone describe a quarterback as “a winner,” that is code for “they stink but had good college teammates.”

But McCoy doesn’t stink this bad. I had my doubts, but never knew for sure if he would succeed in the NFL or not. Like everyone else, I was also captivated by the spirit he showed on the field last year, and was content to bow my trust to Mike Holmgren’s expertise.  I think we can all see now, good arm or not, Colt McCoy at least had a chance to succeed, and the Cleveland Browns are throwing it away.The loss to the San Francisco 49ers was one of those can-be-summed-up-in-one-play kind of games. My turn.

The Browns loss can be summed up in two plays:

  • In the third quarter, the Browns are facing a third-and-two from the San Francisco 39-yard line. They line up in a strong, no wide receiver set, and run a bootleg to McCoy’s right. The 49ers, along with every other casual fan watching, knew this was one-yard pass to running back Chris Ogbonnaya and blow the play up. McCoy desperately chucks the ball into the fray incomplete.
  • Same thing in the fourth quarter, this time third-and-one from their own 42. The Browns line up in the shotgun, yet the play is still designed to be a quick dump to the running back. The entire 49er defense flies into Ogbonnaya’s back pocket before he’s ready, and McCoy just farts the ball to his feet helplessly.

The fact that the Browns have been dreadful in short yardage situations all year points to injuries, and the surprisingly awful play of the offensive line and running backs. And still, Colt McCoy came into this year with his faults, but accuracy was not supposed to be one them.

I compared McCoy to Charlie Frye as early as last year, but I saw that comparison take on a new form Sunday. This time, it wasn’t the way McCoy played, but how he acted.

He gets smashed on the field as if he’s literally been driven too far into the turf to get himself out. His teammates have to peel him up like road kill, though he seems more content to just lie there and expire. His body language limping back to the sideline is horrible, the spirit we all admired is pretty much gone. He’s taking a beating.

This is the saddest regression of all — the mental.

The plays above say it all; failing to complete a two-yard pass is one thing, but it’s more than that, more hopeless. McCoy is trying to run what’s called, he’s just doing what he’s told. He has no skill players, no offensive line, and the plays he’s being told to run are obvious and elementary. He just runs them anyway, into the ground. He knows a play is a dud before the ball is even snapped.

This is not how you develop good players. Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert have to know that at the very least.

We fans know, because we’ve seen it far too often in Cleveland, from Frye, to Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson, to Tim Couch. It’s like they just get ruined.

Colt McCoy came into this year with his faults, but the Browns aren’t doing him any favors.

Favors like say, the 49ers are doing for Alex Smith. They have put Smith in a position to succeed by limiting the exposure of his warts, keeping things simple. Or how about the Cincinnati Bengals’ example of pairing true rookie quarterback Andy Dalton with an elite weapon in A.J. Green?

Tom Heckert is about not wasting money on older free agents and rebuilding through the draft. Fine by me – Browns fans love their draft picks. But they’ve taken this theory to such an extreme that it’s inadvertently cost them a draft pick. That third rounder for Kamerion Wimbley that became Colt McCoy is being wasted.

It kind of seems like the “plan” is contradicting itself. I don’t get that. The Browns have said all along that they like Colt McCoy, so why don’t they taken greater care of him?

They didn’t protect their investment. They signed no free agents, they traded down in the draft, they added no impact players on offense, they added no veterans, and they cut everyone on the team who was older than 30.

And…they force fed McCoy a new offense with no time to prepare. They propped him up as the team leader during “Camp Colt” before backtracking and calling him a rookie. They submarined their own running game by butting heads with Peyton Hillis and letting Lawrence Vickers walk.

I can see the wisdom in each of these acts individually, but not collectively when the development of a young quarterback is at stake. You don’t grow a flower by tossing it into an oven for four months and just praying — You need to give it sunlight, water, and fresh dirt.

I mean, what exactly did Heckert and Holmgren expect to happen here? At the end of the year are they going to play the injury card again? Or are they going to point the fingers at themselves this time?

It’s looking more and more like this was the only way this season was ever going to play out.

  • Was the point to see what you had in McCoy? – We think Brian Robiskie can be a good player in this system.
  • Or was the point take a year off and land some high draft picks?  — Brandon Jackson’s got turf toe? Just put him on IR, this year it’s not about “forcing it.”

No, the point is…there is no point. When your team gets blown up the fans have to just sit there and take it, and hope for the best eventually.

As hard as that is, I’m hoping for the best too.

I hope McCoy does turn it around. I hope at least he doesn’t get killed out there.

I hope Pat Shurmur gets past the injuries and finds some plays that work.

I hope we start to at least see some improvement. I hope Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert know what they’re doing.

I hope watching football will be entertaining again soon.

I hope Tony Pashos offers to buy Colt McCoy dinner for the rest of his life.

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