Story of the Week - Franchise Edition

The Browns finally appear to be solidly constructing a team around a franchise quarterback, as opposed to making a quarterback the centerpiece of the rebuilding process.

It's becoming hard to define the parameters of a week in what is slowly becoming a lost offseason for football.  Considering the NFL's labor stalemate, it's easy to say that nothing found outside of a judge's chambers has happened of note over the past week.  In many ways, NFL days and weeks can easily be defined as the lump of time that has occurred since last April's draft.

In our Browns' universe, we don't have idle distractions such as prosperous ping pong balls, new city catchphrases or the realization that competitive baseball has returned to Cleveland.

Instead, we have something far better...

From the OBR's Insider Tap Room Forum comes this gem from Ramllov.

The list of items that is wrong with Colt McCoy is many.  You can look through the various forums that discuss his problems, not tall enough, arm strength, lack of being able to make all the throws and the list goes on.

Some of the real problems you can associate with Colt McCoy are not those listed above but the following:

These problems relate to the Cleveland Browns at the time of Colt McCoy being drafted and eventually started as a rookie.

The team defense was weak.  The offensive line had considerable problems on the right side of the line.  There is no #1 WR.  There is no experienced offensive coordinator.

The list can continue.

The majority of the Cleveland Browns fans believe they have a potential starting QB and that being Colt McCoy.

Let's advance time and look at the Cleveland Browns on February 15th 2012.

Colt McCoy has had a year with a new offensive scheme, new offensive coordinator being the head coach.  How did he do?

There are three answers.

1. He did great

2. He looked good

3. He did not play up to expectations.

What actions do the Cleveland Browns do in 2012?

Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert and Shurmur set down and evaluate Colt McCoy.  Is he the guy, can he become the guy or is he the team's long-term backup?

It is time to play the devil's advocate.  Let's say he played OK, but, they group decides to find a new starting QB in the 2012 draft.

So, say they take a QB in the 2012 draft, what is different?

The new QB can do it all, tall, fast, long, middle and short passes. This is all expected.

What else is new and different?

The team has the offensive scheme, QB guru's, head coach/offensive coordinator.  The complete team has one year under the scheme and coaching.  The new receivers have another year of experience.  The offensive line should be complete or one player short.  All items on the team are better, especially the defense.

So a new QB is going to play with the 2012 draft choices, free agent acquisitions as well as an advanced 2011 Cleveland Browns team.

So, if the New Browns plan to follow plans comparable to the Jets, Steelers, Ravens and Falcons, they can.  Run the ball, play defense and special teams.  This is the winning formula for developing a young NFL QB.

So, if Colt McCoy fails, which I doubt, the team should be set for the next QB.

Regarding time, Ramllov's post can be considered eternal – at least in the sense that the author's points will certainly outlive the current labor abyss and will no doubt linger far into 2011.  What Ramllov delivered is in many respects a manifesto of sorts for what should be the end result of the Mike Holmgren/Tom Heckert regime.

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As Ramllov suggests, the success of the organization will not rest on the arm of McCoy – although it certainly could from benefit from the second-year quarterback.  In a more permanent sense – and in a complete departure from past regimes – the Browns finally appear to be solidly constructing a team around a franchise quarterback, as opposed to making a quarterback the centerpiece of the rebuilding process.

As for whether McCoy is this proverbial franchise quarterback – this is a question that doesn't have to be answered at the moment.

Holmgren and Heckert's first two Browns' drafts offer the kind of evidence that fully supports this idea.  The 2010 draft bolstered the team's defensive backfield and added some prospects at running back, right guard and possibly wide receiver.  Last month's draft focused on the defensive line and passing game, while adding some developmental talent around the fringes of the roster.  If this trend continues, look for another major team need to be filled, while the talent gap slowly begins to close.

However, since contemporary NFL teams are defined by their quarterbacks, this process will be difficult to fully assess, yet too tempting to ignore after every game in 2011.  Yet, McCoy's progression – or possible lack thereof – speaks to a still overlooked item regarding the team's future…one that has some footing in the team's recent past.

McCoy will not be the only quarterback drafted during Holmgren's time in Cleveland.  Read into this what you will, but the truth is that Holmgren's history suggests an infatuation with developing young quarterbacks.  No better evidence of this idea can be found than McCoy's existence as a Brown.

McCoy has simply taken a draft term – "value" – that is usually bandied around as a cliché and actually gives it meaning.  From an organizational perspective, the Browns are doing everything with McCoy that other perennial losing teams do with first-round picks.  In McCoy's case, the team is saving some 30 million dollars along with not having to operate another set of impossibly high expectations.

Of course, the catch is that the Browns aren't risking the entire future of their franchise on McCoy.  Unlike the tales of Tim Couch or JaMarcus Russell, a McCoy failure does not signal the death knell of the Browns' franchise.  To borrow again from Ramllov, a quarterback will eventually inherit a stable job with Cleveland.

In more concrete terms, what is occurring with McCoy is similar to the path taken by Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel during the brief Charlie Frye era of 2005-2006.  Although there are numerous stark distinctions to be made between the Savage/Crennel duo and the current brain trust, both versions of the Browns were not close to becoming playoff caliber.

Before the token Savage "going down this road" lamentation is broken out, it's worth noting that the 2005 and 2011 versions of the Browns are probably closer than even the most optimistic of fans can envision.  After all, both Savage and Heckert's rebuilding plans are predicated on targeting about 5-6 core team needs.  Talent-wise, the current Browns probably lean slightly ahead thanks to a small core of young players.  Of course, the immediacy of watching players such as Peyton Hillis, Joe Haden and Joe Thomas helps in this regard.

Either way, the path of both of these rebuilding plans will likely lead to the same place.  As Frye struggled and was eventually replaced by Derek Anderson, it's possible that McCoy gives way to a player not currently on the team's roster.

Granted, this possible scenario won't alleviate Browns' fans frustrations with what has been the most unstable position in Cleveland for some two decades.  In reality, none of us are sure what McCoy is capable of for one full season of football, let alone for some extended phantom future.  However, to bring the discussion back to Ramllov, McCoy is clearly the first Browns' QB of the expansion era to play under a complementary system of management and coaching.

This last point is significant, especially considering that Holmgren has delivered an offensive-minded head coach to Cleveland in the form of Pat Shurmur.  While in some respects, Shurmur and McCoy's immediate fortunes are bound together, their dynamic is not as tethered simply based on the overall rebuilding project currently being constructed.

However, in the meantime, what could unfold is McCoy thriving under a more-quarterback friendly offense.  Unlike in the case of Frye, who played under three different offensive coordinators, McCoy should benefit from both Shurmur and Holmgren's guidance and reap the rewards of a steadily improving roster of talent around him.

Or if he doesn't, then someone else will.  The moral of Ramllov's story is timeless – the Browns have moved beyond the point of pinning their hopes on one player.  Perhaps Browns' fans should follow suit.


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