Ghosts of QB Controversies Past

Latest Monday Night game put Browns’ past quarterback conundrums on full display and makes one very thankful for the signal callers on this year's team.

I missed it.

I was in bed by the time Colt McCoy squared off with Brandon Weeden on Monday Night Football, which coincidentally was Brady Quinn’s 30th birthday. It must have been fun times for snarky 140-character comments on Twitter.

We’ll get back to that social media tool in a bit.

As for the game, McCoy led the Washington Redskins to a 20-17 overtime victory, as he was 25-for-30 passing for 299 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed seven times for 16 yards and a touchdown. On the other side, Weeden subbed for an injured Tony Romo and was 4-for-6 passing for 69 yards and a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten, which tied the score at 17 with 9:36 left in the game.

Wait, these were NOT the same quarterbacks we saw during their time as a member of the Cleveland Browns. What the hell?

This doesn’t mean that McCoy is going to lead the Redskins on a playoff push nor does it mean Weeden will find his groove as a Cowboy. Their sample sizes are too large.

In 30 games (22 starts), McCoy is averaging 10.8 yards per completion and he has 22 touchdowns to 21 interceptions. In 25 games, Weeden is a career 55.9 completion percentage passer with 26 interceptions and 24 touchdowns. Both are below 78 in quarterback ratings. In short, both are not very good quarterbacks.

Whether or not you’re Team Hoyer or Team Manziel, you have to feel good as a Browns fan that neither McCoy nor Weeden is starting at quarterback.

Monday night’s “showdown” between the former Browns teammates caused memories to rush back of Cleveland’s failed quarterback competitions.

It all began with Ty Detmer vs. Tim Couch in 1999. The veteran Detmer quickly gave way to the rookie from Kentucky before his injury-shortened career began the quest for “the guy.” Couch gave way to Kelly Holcomb in 2003. Holcomb gave way to a veteran Trent Dilfer, but behind Dilfer was a rookie from Akron in Charlie Frye. Frye got his shot in 2006 before it ended one game into the 2007 season. The promise of Derek Anderson’s pro bowl year didn’t last long. In 2008, the previous year’s first-round draft choice Brady Quinn got his shot leading to a 2009 season that began with a battle between Quinn and Anderson. In 2010, neither player was on the team, as third-round choice McCoy got his shot thanks to injuries to veterans Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace. McCoy’s tenure ended to first-round selection Brandon Weeden in 2012. Finally, Weeden’s injury in 2013 forced the Browns hand the reigns to Brian Hoyer.

What was the common theme? Whether it was Holcomb, Frye, Quinn, McCoy or Weeden, the desire to test the new guy right away to “see what he’s got” is the one constant of Browns Nation since 1999.

In 2014, the calls for Johnny Manziel remain strong even though the Browns are 4-3. Some think Manziel will end up on the scrap heap with the quarterbacks mentioned above. Others think Manziel will lead this team out of the quarterback doldrums.

Where are these calls coming from? Let me reintroduce Twitter. Whether it was calling for Manziel to get snaps during a blowout win over the Steelers, or for the Browns to go to him during the team’s struggles against Jacksonville, it is a difficult place to be at times during a Browns game. Sometimes it’s just best to put down the iPad or flip down the laptop and focus on the overall picture.

The Browns are 4-3. The last time the Browns were 4-3 was 2007. The Browns FINISIHED with four or fewer wins eight times since 1999 — 1999, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014.

Yet there is a divide between fans as to what quarterback the Browns should start? I don’t get it. Compared to what this team has had, the Browns have an embarrassment of riches at the quarterback position.

Imagine what Colts Twitter would have been like in 1998. In his rookie season, Manning completed only 56.7 percent of his passes with 28 interceptions and 26 touchdowns. Oh, how the vocal minority would have ripped the Colts front office for not drafting Ryan Leaf.

This is not to say Manziel is going to be a bust or that Hoyer is the answer. But why can’t we enjoy the fact the Browns are 4-3, playing competitive football and still in the thick of the AFC North hunt?

For once, the quarterback is not the issue on this team. For once, the Browns are entering November with a chance for the conference title and a playoff berth. That should be savored and celebrated by however means necessary, including on Twitter.

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