Throughout the off-season we have heard the tale that the Browns will give each quarterback the opportunity to win the job. Furthermore, comments coming out from offensive coordinator Bruce Arians were that the incumbent would have to be "knocked out" - something that many within the team and around the league believe should happen in the Browns open quarterback derby.
Granted, Holcomb had success against some of the weaker secondaries in the league when he relieved Couch during 2002, but these were also the some of the same defenses that gave Couch trouble.
With all the tales and rumors that have made their way out of the Browns training complex in Berea (some of which come from organization mouthpieces) Holcomb unseating Couch would be unexpected.
Some of the talk that has surfaced in the months leading up to the 2003 season was placed out for there public consumption on purpose. This was done for one reason: Raise the bar, enhance the competition.
Through the early days of training camp, something has become very clear at the Berea training complex: Tim Couch has come to camp not only to retain his starting position, but to once and for all put an end to the claims that he has underachieved or is not the best quarterback on the roster.
Granted, there are various opinions in the locker room as to who is better or most capable quarterback. This is not the division among the masses that many a quarterback controversy has created, but a situation that can become explosive if Couch is handed the starting position while being outplayed by Holcomb.
Both quarterback have had their struggles thus far in camp, and some close to the action claim that the competition has made both Couch and Holcomb more aggressive than they have in the past. Both have had interceptions in training camp thus far, and both have made some tremendous throws to a talented group of wide receivers.
In terms of technique and timing, Holcomb throws a tighter ball and quite often is more accurate than Couch, but Couch has shown the ability to get the job done.
This training camp is proving to be much of the same for the fifth-year signal-caller from Kentucky. His reads appear quicker, he has been more decisive with the ball, and he has displayed an air of confidence that doesn't fit with the hot-seat he's been on since Holcomb's tremendous performance last January.
Now, getting the team to respond in the same manner it did under the direction of Holcomb will be the toughest of Couch's challenges.
So, watch the preseason performances, watch how the players respond to each player.
Whether or not Holcomb appears to be the better quarterback for this team, I am under the impression the playing field isn't level. Holcomb will have to force the issue with a spectacular training camp, while Couch would have to fall flat on his face.
When all is said and done, it is unlikely that Tim Couch will not be under center when the Browns kickoff the 2003 season against the Indianapolis Colts.