Decisions, Decisions

With the rookie impressive and two veterans on the mend, Browns coach Eric Mangini enters the bye week faced with a difficult decision: Who to start at quarterback Nov. 7 vs. New England?

The Browns have decisions to make during the bye. The primary one: What to do at quarterback for the rest of the season.

Rookie Colt McCoy made his second straight start in a 30-17 upset of the Saints. Going with McCoy in the Superdome was an easy decision because Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace were out with ankle injuries. Wallace is ahead of Delhomme on their rehab and might be ready to play against Patriots when the season resumes on Nov. 7.

Coach Eric Mangini has to weigh the benefits of sticking with McCoy to develop him against the alternative -- playing a veteran quarterback who might have a better chance of winning immediately despite McCoy's success in New Orleans. Wallace was playing well when a sack by Falcons end John Abraham sent him to the sideline Oct. 10.

Adding to the dilemma is the Browns could be in position to take a highly rated quarterback in the draft. But before they go that route they might want to find out more about McCoy. McCoy completed 23 of 33 passes for 281 yards a touchdown, and two interceptions in his debut in Pittsburgh. He followed that by completing 9 of 16 for 74 yards against the Saints. He did not turn the ball over.

"I don't think we're going to make a decision off of a few weeks," Mangini said. "I don't think it's really going to be based off of that sort of window. It's going to be probably more of an overview look at what he's done and what he can do. This is definitely some added information you're getting. You get a chance to look at him in games, but it's hard to say."

A decision also has to be made about cornerback Eric Wright. Wright has struggled at times but he has held onto his starting job. Each week rookie Joe Haden gets better; he had his first career interception on Oct. 17 in Pittsburgh.

The Browns are in their sub defense about 50 percent of all snaps. In those situations Haden lines up as the left cornerback and Wright moves over the slot receiver.

Wright gave up three touchdown passes in Baltimore and in Pittsburgh. A pass to Steelers receiver Hines Ward resulting in an 8-yard touchdown unfolded exactly as Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan thought it would -- except for the touchdown part. The Browns correctly guessed Ben Roethlisberger would throw to Ward short of the goal line on third-and-8. Wright failed to make the play. Afterward he confessed he should have made the tackle.

"Just because we are counting on him doesn't necessarily mean he's always going to do great," Ryan said.  "The biggest thing is consistency. Right now, Eric hasn't been that consistent.  He's not as good as he was last year consistent-wise.  He just has to play through it."

Notes, Quotes

Trending: The revamped offensive line debuted in New Orleans. A season-ending ankle injury to right tackle Tony Pashos forced coach Eric Mangini to move right guard Floyd Womack to tackle. Seven-year veteran Billy Yates beat out rookie Shawn Lauvao at right guard.

•By The Numbers: The Browns have a zero takeaway-giveaway differential. They have eight interceptions and four fumbles lost. They have eight picks and four fumble recoveries.

Strategy, Personnel

--LB David Bowens returned two interceptions for touchdowns.

--P Reggie Hodges ran 68 yards on a fake punt. It was the longest run on s fake punt since the NFL merger in 1970.

--WR Brian Robiskie led the Browns with three catches.

--LB Scott Fujita, a former Saint, had a sack and interception and a team-high 11 tackles.

--RB Peyton Hillis threw a key third-down pass to Colt McCoy on a seven-minute, 34-second drive in the fourth quarter.


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