And so we say good-bye to another polarizing QB. Colt McCoy was traded to the Niners yesterday effectively for a 7th round pick.
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.
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.]
How did Colt become a lightning rod?
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.*
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?
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.
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.
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.
* Side note: just noticed Frowns photo-bombing the McCoy interview. Who knew he was a Livestrong-bracelet guy? He’s truly nationwide.