One of the more pressing questions surrounding the Cleveland Browns is the status of rookie QB Colt McCoy. McCoy suffered a high ankle sprain during the Browns' 24-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Nov. 21. He has been wearing a walking boot since. Heading into a contest with the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, McCoy is not expected to play and veteran Jake Delhomme will once again be under center.
There has been some subtle speculation that the Browns are using the McCoy injury as an avenue to avoid a quarterback controversy because Delhomme and Seneca Wallace returned from ankle injuries around the same time McCoy went down. Having won both games since the McCoy injury, the organization may be inclined to stay with Delhomme, until or unless the team plays poorly the next couple weeks and all signs of momentum have ceased.
On the flip-side, the Browns organization is intrigued and wants to see more of McCoy. As the season winds down, internal discussions have been ongoing regarding the handling of the quarterback position with a healthy McCoy. In a season that he wasn't supposed to be on the playing field, McCoy's performance has helped ease the immediate concern that the Browns must secure a quarterback for the future this offseason. That notion may also help get McCoy back on the playing field when healthy, prior to season's end.
With a rookie quarterback, the norm is to see the offensive scheme scaled back to minimize the opportunity for mistakes. From the onset, the Browns coaching staff nearly followed this direction, until the rookie opened eyes when getting first-team reps thanks to the Delhomme and Wallace injuries. The Browns coaching staff put McCoy in a position to utilize his strengths in the short-to-intermediate passing game, and they gambled that McCoy could execute that offensive game-plan.
It's common to hear that a cerebral-type player tends to learn from a mistake and doesn't make the same mistake twice. In the case of McCoy, he has been a quick study and has progressed significantly since those early days of rookie camp last May. McCoy has quickly gone from a wide-eyed rookie struggling with the speed of the professional game to a young player grasping his role and accepting the challenge of getting down and dirty on the playing field. The demeanor and confidence McCoy portraits has been contagious. His teammates — veterans and rookies alike — are confident in McCoy's ability to make plays.
Outside of teammate and mentor Delhomme, McCoy's biggest backer is team president Mike Holmgren. In last April's draft, Holmgren used his position of power to dictate the selection of McCoy. Following some rocky times in training camp, which included McCoy missing practices because of minor injuries, Holmgren took the opportunity to talk to McCoy. Holmgren expressed his vast experience with the rookie, which helped ease McCoy's mindset.
When the Browns evaluated the quarterbacks in the 2010 draft, McCoy kept drawing Holmgren in with his accuracy, his ability to extend plays and his leadership skills went well beyond his years at Texas.
With the draft being void of multiple quarterbacks worthy of a first-round selection, the Browns pursued a deal with the St. Louis Rams to obtain the first overall selection. The intention was to then to select Oklahoma's Sam Bradford.
A deal couldn't be consummated. The Browns and Mike Holmgren went onto Plan B, which was Colt McCoy.
Time will tell whether Holmgren was correct in his evaluation of McCoy, but the upstart rookie and Browns team in 2010 have taken on a promising look.