Screwed or bad? Can’t it be both?

ColtMcCoyMustache_7

We can all agree on one thing: the moustache was a mistake.

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And so we say good-bye to another polarizing QB.  Colt McCoy was traded to the Niners yesterday effectively for a 7th round pick.

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Details of the trade here.

McCoy was a surprise pick in the inaugural Heckert/Holmgren draft of 2010.  Heckert was so busy working his magic to get Montario Hardesty in the second round that he seemed panicked at the top of the third.  One gets the picture of a war room out of ideas after the player Heckert was targeting, Corey Peters, was taken two slots earlier by Atlanta.  At that point, Holmgren says he inserted himself and, armed with a John Gruden recommendation, ordered the McCoy pick.

It was fun in a way because he was a name brand college QB from a big school that national media types could talk about in relation to the Browns.  We tasted some of that ‘we’re on the map’ flavor that is so scarce in these parts.   That fun-ness was tempered by remembering that the last time the Browns stopped the slide of a name brand college QB from a big school, it didn’t work out so great.

Can’t blame his stupid hold-out anymore.

But it was an odd pick at the time for sure.  The Browns had already signed not one, but TWO, veteran QBs for 2010 (Delhomme and Wallace).  Stockpiling developmental QBs with third round picks is fine if you’re a playoff team (Broncos/Osweiler/57th); and sometimes you hit a homerun (Wilson/Seahawks/75th).  But the Browns’ stupendously old roster of 2009 needed all the picks available for re-tooling.  Using #85 for a projected clipboard holder was questionable and the best you can say about it is that it was not the original plan.

[oblig:  who went within ten picks after McCoy?  NaVorro Bowman/Niners/91st; Jimmy Graham/Saints/95th.  Ok, sorry to play that game.]

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How did Colt become a lightning rod?

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Atlanta game is where McCoy should have made his debut.  (mute, then click.)

I really need to do a comprehensive break-down on the 2010 Browns season.  There is SO MUCH wrong lore surrounding that team.

  • Delhomme really didn’t suck when not playing on a sprained ankle.
  • Hillis’ fumbling got him benched –unfairly?– when he was in top form and dominating.
  • Injuries to two elderly players (Fujita and Yates) in the Jets game doomed the season.

And the most under-reported FACT of 2010:

  • Given the opportunity to game-plan with a static roster, Mangini out-coached the reigning Super Bowl champion (Payton) and consensus God (Belichick) in consecutive games with a 3rd string noodle-armed rookie QB.

Back to Colt in 2010, you’ll find that those who are Colt fans look at the courageous debut at Pittsburgh followed by wins –blowout wins– at New Orleans and home against New England as touchstones for their McCoy fondness.  In those starts, McCoy demonstrated that most unmeasurable of QB metrics:  winning-ness.

Winning-ness trumps arm strength.

The national name under this banner is notable third round pick Joe Montana.  In spite of Montana’s success at Notre Dame, he was the fourth QB taken in 1979 behind Jack Thompson, Phil Simms, and Steve Fuller.  The local name that comes to mind is pick #330 of 1972, Brian Sipe (out of Air Coryell State).

McCoy’s height/weight put him right in the same category as those two.  Add in his credentials as a high school all-state QB in Texas; three year starter at Austin for a wildly successful Longhorn era.  McCoy won the two bowl games he finished:  Offensive MVP in the 2007 Holiday Bowl over Arizona State and got another Bowl MVP in passing for 414 vs. Ohio State in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl win.  The bowl game he didn’t win, he didn’t finish.  But he did deliver as strong a post-game interview as I’ve seen.*

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHgEESzcGRA?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Whenever I watch that interview, I’m reminded that that is everything I would ever want my son to be.  I’m reminded that the Colt dialog often lacks perspective.  What is not to like about this person?

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The Screwing.

I, for one, will miss the endless humor opportunities from the UT Bookstore parking lot statues.

Enter Pat Shurmur in 2010.  He’s a rookie coach and made his bones as a QB coach (for ten years under Andy Reid in Philly) and as OC (for the anemic Rams of 2008-9).  You didn’t have to be Freud to have watched Shurmur and determined he suffered from an enormous Peter Principle insecurity.  He always looked defensive and cornered.  What does one do in that situation?  Revert to default.  For Shurmur, this meant shoe-horning his unimaginative ‘system’ into an offense not built for it.  (It’s 100% debatable whether any team’s roster has the talent to be effective in the Shurmur-Coast-Offense, but let’s table that.)  In so doing, Shurmur removed that one thing that Colt brought to the table:  his winning-ness.

  • Shotgun set?  Get under center Colt.
  • Huddle command?  Just run my plays Colt.
  • Audibles?  No audibles Colt.
  • Turnovers?  Unacceptable Colt; check down unless receiver is wide open.

The result a Browns offense 30th in points; 29th in total yards.  Most telling, because this is the same stat that Shurmur brought with him from St. Louis, the Browns were 30th in net yards per passing attempt.

Team goes 4-12.  Shurmur, utterly unable to speak to reporters, was all too happy to feed Colt to the Cleveland media piranhas.  It wasn’t long until QB controversy was the lede in two out of every three Mary Kay Cabot pieces.

Screwing complete.

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And yet… just not good QB-ing.

Even acknowledging the success with Mangini and the screwing by Shurmur… there was a lot of damning performance on the field.  We’ll never know if Shurmur forced McCoy’s tendency to throw 70% of the time to the right side of the field.  But once defenses noticed it and took it away, we saw some abysmal QB-ing.  Even allowing for the demoralizing effect of a MoMass-(rookie)GLittle receiving corps, we saw quite a few forced bad throws.

My point:  even given all benefits of doubt, I didn’t see an upside with Colt in Cleveland.  Stripped of his winning-ness by Shurmur/Holmgren, Colt doesn’t bring it in the huddle now.

Here’s hoping he can get some of that back because from here he seems like a 100% solid guy.

Let’s send him off with his very own wedding song.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFQgE18-Lp8?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

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For a cogent analysis that is less charitable to Colt, cruise over to Tom’s piece at The Cleveland Fan:  Browns Close the Corral on Colt McCoy.

For Frowns’ farewell, it is here:  Chips Ahoy.

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* Side note:  just noticed Frowns photo-bombing the McCoy interview.  Who knew he was a Livestrong-bracelet guy?  He’s truly nationwide.

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  • Well said jimbo.

    Time for Colt to move on. Whether he can play is irrelevant at this point. He simply can’t play here.

    I think that for whatever shortcomings he had and whatever you may think of his public demeanor (fake or real) the real grating issue with me is his Dad. When your kid is 25 years old and you’re still trying to smooth the path for him, you are the epitome of all that is wrong with sports parenting.

  • dg736

    Best site for Browns coverage anywhere on the ‘net. Great job jimkanicki. Shurmur will be remembered ( if at all) as an invertebrate (no spinal column). He threw Colt to the media and demonstrated publicly his utter disregard for MCCoy after the Harrison hit. NO OTHER COACH in the NFL would be so mute if his starting QB got drilled like a tackling dummy. Colt gave Shurmur more than he deserved. All I can say is, it’s been tough to watch this team since the Belichick years (other than the 1 playoff year). Emotional and physical pain weekly. Seems like Colt symbolized the Browns’ and the fans’ luck in general in taking that big hit. They say time heals all wounds but in the case of us Browns fans, maybe the clock has stopped altogether. I don’t see any healing on the horizon for fans of this franchise.

  • This was well done. Back when I had more time and motivation, I began my “Browns Book” and wrote a review of the 2010 season. Two conclusions I came to (besides Mangini did a great job coaching until the AFC North run to end the season) were that 1) Billy Yates was a really good guard and for a 4-5 stretch probably was the team’s best right guard since the 1980’s and 2) Delhomme was probably the BEST QB of the expansion era – although the ankle and panicky throws didn’t exactly offer tangible proof.

    Well done – any day I can read something about Billy Yates’ 2010 contributions is a good one. Thanks, Kanicki.

  • Colt was a pretty bad quarterback. His biggest asset, if my memory serves me, was being able to scramble and extend plays. I watched just about every game he played in and then watched a lot of the playoff games in those years, and the talent gap that I saw between him and the QBs that were in the postseason was obvious. I am not upset that the Browns took a shot on him, and it was not ideal to throw a project like him into the fire, but life is not fair and he got a shot to “be the guy”. However, I am going to have to call into question the entire Colt the leader/winner storyline. Reports are emerging that he was not a good guy in the locker room, and that once he was relegated to Weeden’s backup he had mysterious shoulder soreness that only came to light the moment the staff called on him to fill for Weeden after in game injuries (in the 1st instance Weeden manned up and went back in and in the 2nd instance Thad Lewis ended up stepping in). This is not the type of behavior that a winner exhibits. Once you add in his throwing the ball into the dirt to give the receivers rest and getting MoMass concussed on the reg it becomes difficult for me to feel empathy for Colt.

    • wrt to colt back-biting, politicking, scheming, undermining: i didnt see it.

      he had every chance to bury the team after the harrison concussion, didnt do it. he was asked point-blank about no audibles, answered honestly. coach did happy-talk about about open competition w weeden and didnt deliver, didnt bitch (but noted the fact of it). wasnt in game-planning sessions under mangini as 3rd stringer, didnt go to reporters until asked.

      the problems i’ve observed in terms of colt fomenting dissent all seemed the product of answering questions and the extent of discord seemed magnified by the muck-raking cleveland media types. i seriously think colt comported himself with remarkable class under very unfair circumstances. that’s my take anyway.

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