Colt McCoy signed in time to not miss even an hour of work.
The Browns' rookies reported to training camp Friday. Eight days from now, they'll be getting their first taste of full-speed, full-contact NFL practice in front of fans who will be clamoring for McCoy's attention and hoping he'll someday be The Guy, the guy they've been waiting for.
Someday. Those "Colt" chants are going to start shortly after Jake Delhomme's second interception, which might be sometime in late September but also might be in the first quarter Aug. 14 in Green Bay. But what makes McCoy's situation different than those of Browns' quarterbacking saviors of the recent past isn't that he's been anointed as anything -- Mike Holmgren may have given the order to draft him when he did to win the press conference more than anything -- but that he's in an environment that gives him a chance to have success in the long term.
Holmgren and his senior adviser, Gil Haskell, have a pretty good track record with quarterbacks. Regardless of how Delhomme has played recently or what he might have left on the fastball, he's a smart, solid, professional guy who paid his dues on his way to becoming an NFL success story and has been great to McCoy so far. Eric Mangini believes his team is better in every aspect in his second year and feels confident in offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who has a year's experience in this job and a resume that includes time working with Brett Favre and Tom Brady, and quarterbacks coach Carl Smith, who's been coaching in the NFL since before McCoy was born.
McCoy impressed everybody in Berea with his work ethic, eagerness to learn and natural leadership in May and June before departing. Mangini likes his rookies to have time to do a load of laundry and get in a workout at their old high school before bringing them back to work, which is why the Browns are the first team to officially have camp rolling. McCoy found time to get married, and both he and the Browns knew it was important to get his contract done in time so he wouldn't miss a thing, even just an all-rookie meeting.
What the Browns should be hoping is that McCoy's 2010 season starts now and essentially ends Sept. 2 when the preseason ends.
That means he gets seven weeks to take snaps and real reps running the Browns' plays, gets a little live experience against second and third-team defenses (maybe a drive against the Bears' starters on Sept. 2) and then runs the scout team and holds the clipboard when the real games start, still learning but not getting his face or his confidence shattered in the process.
That would put him way ahead of Brady Quinn, who missed valuable time while holding out in his rookie training camp while Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson stunk up the joint. That's the summer the Browns did everything but beg Anderson to win the job but he was so bad in camp and in the preseason that they had to pick Frye. Then Anderson took over late in Game One, got hot and went to the Pro Bowl after a 10-win season.
Then Anderson -- with plenty of help from Rob Chudzinski and Braylon Edwards -- really crash landed in 2008. Then came last year's debacle of Mangini first picking Quinn, twice making in-game changes and ultimately ending the year with a gameplan that didn't include a quarterback at all.
Pardon the detour, but the Browns are all too familiar with the whole learn from history or be doomed to repeat it deal. They've never really created an environment in which a quarterback could survive, let alone thrive (also see Carthon, Mo; Trent Dilfer throwing a public fit when stepping aside for Frye and the Butch Davis-Kelly Holcomb-Tim Couch soap opera). The hope in Berea now is that's changed with Haskell, Holmgren and Delhomme around. From a chemistry and big-picture standpoint, cutting ties with Anderson and Quinn might be as important as any personnel addition the Browns made this offseason. Next comes a season of looking for answers in lots of places but making sure the young QB grows a little at a time, safely and quietly.
None of these things guarantee NFL success, but McCoy is mature and tough. He's at the facility early and stays late. He comes with a pedigree, more wins than any other quarterback in NCAA history while playing at one of the real pressure-cooker programs.
Can he throw anything besides an 8-yard comeback route? We'll find out.
But hopefully not for a while.
Follow Zac Jackson on Twitter @FSOhioZJackson, and check out his reports on all of Cleveland's sports teams on http://www.foxsportsohio.com!