Random Offseason Thoughts and Topics:
The Quarterback Position and What Will Happen?
It’s only January but talked are in full force regarding the signal caller. Everyone from local radio to Pat Shurmur and even Randy Lerner have weighed in about finding the right quarterback to lead the Browns. It appears as if the team is not 100% behind Colt McCoy, as the biggest endorsement came from Tom Heckert (in his exit press conference) who stated McCoy will have an opportunity to compete for the 2012 starting job.
This amount of talk is still somewhat interesting, but it will likely get stale by April and the NFL draft. Clearly the team has to have a face of the franchise who will, no doubt, lead the team for years to come. McCoy has been in league for two seasons, one where he entered as the third string and was forced to play by injuries, and one with a lockout and a shortened off-season to work with teammates. Would Colt improve exponentially with his first full-offseason as a starter? This is the big question the front office has to decide.
What makes this scenario interesting, is that while there will likely be a quarterback controversy (once again), the actual kind is still to be determined. None of the scenarios have worked out, which is why another will likely arise. In the previous seasons, we have seen why the circumstances failed.
From years ago, we have seen guys vying for the starting quarterback job like two seasoned veterans (Delhomme/Wallace, Garcia/Holcomb, etc.). The two veteran controversies both failed largely due to injuries, but also periods of underperformance. The Browns in 2010 went back and forth between Delhomme and Wallace due to ankle injuries, while the 2004 season saw Jeff Garcia struggle and Kelly Holcomb sustain injuries. In both scenarios, one quarterback of the duo was not with the Browns the following season; prompting not good enough play to warrant starting consideration (from the team’s perspective). One would figure that if a veteran that has been in the NFL for several seasons and hasn’t cemented himself as a starter, there is a good reason why.
A few times fans have witnessed a pair of younger veterans (Couch/Holcomb, Frye/Anderson, etc.) who have competed as the starting play caller. These seasons with competition also had injuries, but poor play highlighted the season-long debates. The 2003 season saw Butch Davis juggle both Tim Couch and Kelly Holcomb on a weekly basis as neither stood out as superior. Where as Anderson relieved Frye in 2006 after injury, gave the job back prior to offseason camp in 2007 and regained the starting position after a miserable opener by Frye, who was released a few days later.
The final type of battle pitted a veteran against a rookie (Detmer/Couch, Dilfer/Frye, Anderson/Quinn, etc). In 1999 and 2005 the older veteran was the opening day starter and failures behind center caused the team to turn to the rookie. Couch was thrust into the starting lineup earlier than Frye, but nonetheless the two different scenarios (with different rosters) saw the young men struggle early at the position; both got several opportunities to keep the job in the seasons following but neither were able to maintain it and be the guy.
The Browns could avoid these three categories should the team come out and say 100% Colt McCoy is the starter, however otherwise it gets a little more complicated. The first scenario would play out should the team pick up an older veteran (like a Kyle Orton) and having him compete with both Seneca Wallace and McCoy. If the team acquires a younger veteran like Matt Flynn and who battles Colt, the second grouping would be present. If Robert Griffin III gets drafted, the final controversy would be seen in 2012.
Having a controversy/competition isn’t necessarily the worst thing in football, but Cleveland has seen it a few times in the past with less than desired results. That’s why a majority of Browns fans do not want the to see the team be unsure of the signal caller heading into the season. However, it seems apparent “the guy” may currently not be on the team, and after picking up the next quarterback, he will have to eventually compete and share time before developing into what fans and the team envisioned.
I personally would love to see Colt McCoy overcome what occurred this past season and lead the Browns toward a coveted Superbowl down the road. I enjoy his demeanor and leadership skills and believe he can develop his play. I’m tired of losing football and want to see a winner now, which I why I’m rooting for Colt to succeed, but realistically I’m just not sure its going to happen.
Having said that, I am all for the Browns bringing in another (and more importantly better) quarterback in the near future, but I am partial to it being an early draft pick over a free agent. If Griffin is there at number four, and the Browns think he is the guy that will make the team consistently win for several years, take him and do not look back. His time as starter will come before too long and the wins will pile up. If the front office does not think he is that guy, continue to build around Colt until he either unleashes his full potential or get your franchise player down the road.