Tale of Two Quarterbacks

McCoy, Bradford are linked by more than just a college rivalry.

BEREA, Ohio—Coming out of the 2010 NFL Draft were three quarterbacks who were all finalists for the Heisman Trophy in Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow.

Bradford was the first player selected in the draft and Pat Shurmur was the Rams' offensive coordinator. After playing in Shurmur's system for his rookie season, he is now learning a new system put in place by Josh McDaniels.

Shurmur was asked if changing systems sets back the development of a young quarterback.

"I think quarterbacks at this level are here because they know how to play the game," Shurmur said. "You learn a system and then in order to execute efficiently you've got to get use to the pieces around you, timing with your receivers, the though process of the play caller, how well you block them, the types of runs, if you have a system where audibles are used.

"Some systems there aren't many audibles," he said. "You call the play that's run and other systems there are lots of audibles where you make the decision at the line of scrimmage and most systems are somewhere in between. Those are all the things the quarterback has to get used to, not to mention the verbiage. When you have a chance to be in a system for a long time it helps. As you're learning it then everybody has to kind of have a chance to grow together and I think at sometimes it affects the quarterback."

After a rookie year that Bradford led the Rams to seven wins, he seems to have dropped back this season. He is 127-of-232 for 1,432 yards (54.7 pct.) with three touchdowns and three interceptions and a rating of 72.3. Bradford threw for 255 yards last week against Arizona after missing the previous two weeks with a high ankle sprain.

As a rookie, Bradford set NFL rookie records for completions (354) and attempts (590), and his 3,512 passing yards are the second most by a rookie in NFL history, trailing only Peyton Manning's 3,739 in 1998. He also had 18 touchdowns.

In comparison, McCoy thus far, is 177-of-308 for 1,764 yards (57.5 pct.) with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. He has a 76.5 rating.

As a rookie, McCoy was 135-of-222 for 1,576 yards (60.8 pct.) with six touchdowns and nine interceptions and a rating of 74.5.

Shurmur said he thinks there is a reason why Bradford had a strong rookie season.

"Last year, Sam was a guy, we drafted him and he had the benefit of a full off-season with minicamps, training camp and really he had a chance to develop in an off-season," Shurmur said. "We went through training camp and really didn't name him the starter until the week right before the first game and then he was in there for pretty much every snap. He helped the St. Louis Rams win seven games and I think he's a fine quarterback and I'm assuming that's he's making that same progress this year."

McCoy is statistically, having a better season than Bradford so far with a 76.5 rating, 10 touchdowns and .575 pct. Bradford is at 72.3 with a .547 pct.

McCoy said he and Bradford have compared notes.

"We kind of flip-flopped offenses in the offseason, so we had a few questions for each other and helped each other a little bit," McCoy said. "Sam said he really liked Pat and said a lot of great things about him, so I was excited to start to work with him."

Bradford made some glowing remarks of his time with Shurmur in his conference call on Wednesday.

"Pat taught me a lot, not only off the field, but on it," Bradford said. "I learned how to handle myself in the huddle and on the sideline. How to manage my body language and how to be a leader as a young player on an NFL team.

"I can't tell you how much I appreciate the opportunity I had to spend last season with him," he said. "Colt is very fortunate to have someone like Pat working with him."

Shurmur said leading up to the draft of 2010, he looked at every throw made by Bradford and McCoy in college.

"With both quarterbacks we looked at every one of their throws in college," he said. "You watch the games and you watch throw after throw after throw."

Although Shurmur wouldn't say how close he felt McCoy stood to Bradford, it is assumed he wouldn't have taken the job with the Browns if he didn't have a favorable opinion of McCoy. The biggest difference between the two is physical as Bradford is 6-4, 224 to McCoy 6-1, 215.

Shurmur said there is no questioning of McCoy's toughness, as he has been hit numerous times this season. Shurmur said that is a trait you can build on—if the player survives.

"I think in this business you can't be very good for very long if you don't display toughness," he said. "I don't think you can question (McCoy's toughness)."

Shurmur said it takes time for quarterbacks to grow together with their offense.

"The longer you play together and work together, you get more comfortable and you can build on what you're doing," he said. "You're trying to get better."

McCoy is looking forward to playing against Bradford for the first time at the NFL level after playing against one another in college in the Texas/Oklahoma games.

"Both of us are competitors and we want to win, so I think it's going to be fun," McCoy said. "There were always a lot of implications on who played in the national championship from that game, and it was one of my favorites each year.

"I enjoy watching Sam play, and we see each other in the offseason, so I'm glad he's back from his injury. This is something a lot of people have been looking forward to."

Shurmur said he thinks that McCoy and Bradford are similar in a lot of ways, especially in their personalities.

"I think they're very similar in a lot of ways," he said. "It's really hard to separate them. They're big competitors and hard workers. There are a lot of similarities and it's hard to talk about differences."

Notebook

Wildcat Back?: WR/KR Josh Cribbs hinted Wednesday that he might be used in the Wildcat or in some way as a running back with RB Peyton Hillis and RB Montario Hardesty out this week.

"I can't give nothing away, but they put something in (the game plan) that's real special to me, and that's all I can say about that," Cribbs said. "We've got eight games left and there are going to be some surprises out there this week.

"I won't give you a hint, but you know my track record."

The Browns haven't used the Wildcat this season.  In previous years, Cribbs has 96 career carries to go along with 58 receptions and 12 pass attempts. This season so far, he has a career high of 298 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 22 receptions. He has one carry this season for minus three yards. He also attempted to throw a pass and was sacked.

"I think we're up to that point where coach is starting to explore opportunities and open up the playbook a little more," Cribbs said. "Hopefully, down the line, we'll throw some Wildcat in there. You just got to watch and see."

Cribbs also has 9,852 return yards in his career, which is seventh all-time in the NFL. Cribbs needs 148 yards to hit 10,000.

Stopping SteveJax: After playing against the tandem of RB Arian Foster and RB Ben Tate last week, the Browns take on RB Steven Jackson this week. Dick Jauron said the task is similar to last week's.

"We worked on (stopping the run) last week, too," Jauron said. "We just didn't do the job we needed. The run game just got out of hand."

Jauron said the statistic he looks at is the yards per carry average.

"I'm concerned with the yards per carry average," he said. "You're alright if you can keep it in the 3.7, 3.8 range."

The Browns are giving up 4.4 per carry, overall.

This week, RB Steven Jackson leads the Rams into town after back-to-back 100-yard games.

"It will be a little different but he's a tremendous running back," Jauron said. "He's a very powerful back and probably as big and strong as any back we've seen."

Shurmur agreed.

"He's a very physical runner and he's had two outstanding games back to back," he said. "He appears to be healthy and he's a tough guy to bring down. He's a key reason they have been moving the ball."

Massaquoi, Dawson Sent Home: WR Mohamed Massaquoi (concussion) was sent home, as was K Phil Dawson. Shurmur said Dawson was experiencing migraine headaches, but isn't expected to miss Sunday's game.

Shurmur was asked what happens with Massaquoi going forward.

"We'll have to further evaluate how we go from here," Shurmur said. "It is not uncommon for him to come in and if he's not feeling well, to send him home. We're on top of the situation."

Shurmur said he has never doubted going for long field goals with Dawson. He is 6-of-6 from over 50 yards this season, with a long of 53 yards.

"I've never flinched on him," Shurmur said. "(Dawson) sets his mark and if we get to that point, we kick it. That's how much I trust him."

Hagg Up: It appears that rookie DB Eric Hagg might start this week with the injuries to DB T.J. Ward (foot/finger) and DB Usama Young (hip).

"Eric has done a nice job and looks much more comfortable in there from a couple weeks ago when he came back from injury," Shurmur said.

Hagg was a seventh-round draft choice this year from Nebraska and he suffered a knee injury in training camp and was kept on the roster, rather than putting him on injured reserve.

"He's one of our young players who is improving every day," Shurmur said. "He's a very physical guy and in training camp we felt good about his progress."

Shurmur said Hagg showed enough promise at the beginning of camp to keep him on the active roster.

"We evaluated (putting him on injured reserve), but knew he would be back for a good chunk of the season," Shurmur said. "Because he played so well before he was hurt, we decided to keep him (on the roster)."

Hagg has good size at 6-1, 205 pounds and has shown a propensity to find the football.

"That's one of the traits we saw in training camp and we had talked about him in a personnel meeting the night before he got hurt how well he was doing."

Shurmur all but ruled Ward out for the game.

"There's a very good chance (Ward) will be out," Shurmur said. "I don't want to rule him out, but he's still in a cast."

Jauron said Hagg can help in run defense because of his size.

"He's very versatile and if he plays a lot it will be good for him," Jauron said. "Ideally, because of his size you'd like to see him closer in the box."

Jauron said it's an obvious blow to lose Ward.

"You don't want to lose anyone but T.J. is a tough guy, but he has unusual skills," Jauron said. "He delivers a blow and injuries don't come at any good time, but it's not a good time for us."

Other Injuries: Besides RB Peyton Hillis (hamstring), RB Montario Hardesty (calf)and DL Auston English (knee) declared out, the rest of the injury report is: WR Mohamed Massaquoi (head), DB Dimitri Patterson (knee) and DB Usama Young (hip) are doubtful.

Shurmur said that Patterson and Young would do some things at practice Thursday.

LB Kaluka Maiava (knee), DL Jayme Mitchell (chest/ankle), OL Tony Pashos (ankle) and DB Ray Ventrone (hamstring) are questionable.


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