Year One: The 3rd Round Phenom
- Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft, Holmgren announces before preseason McCoy will not play in 2010, he will sit and learn behind veterans Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace as a 3rd stringer.
- By week 5, however, both Delhomme and Wallace had sustained high ankle sprains. At the right tackle position, between injury plagued Tony Pashos and John St. Claire the human turnstile, the right side of the o-line was becoming a serious liability. And neither Delhomme nor Wallace had been able to do much with a lack of weapons at WR. The team sat at 1-4. By all accounts McCoy had been basically ignored by Mangini and OC Brian Daboll in offseason and preseason, having received no practice reps with the offense. But heading into week 6 McCoy would have to prepare himself quickly for a trial by fire.
- With approximately 2 days of practice with an NFL offense in his fledgling career under his belt, McCoy was called upon to take over as starter in week 6 against the 2010 AFC champions Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Best defense in the NFL, hands down. Despite being sacked 5 times, he completed 23 of 33 passes for 281 yards with a TD and 2 INTs, and scrambled 4 times for 22 yards. Despite a 28-10 loss in Pittsburgh, McCoy's poise after being thrown into the fire was widely praised by the Cleveland media and fan base.
- Week 7 the Browns defense intercepted Brees 4 times and defeated the Saints at New Orleans 30-17. McCoy played the role of game manager, completing 9 of 16 passes and throwing no INTs.
- Week 9 after the bye, the Browns shocked the Patriots, defeating them in Cleveland 34-14. McCoy completed 14 of 19 passes for 174 yards with no interceptions, ran for 20 yards including a 16 tard TD run.
- Week 10 the Browns faced the 7-2 Jets (a team that would later go on to sack Tom Brady 5 times, beating the Patriots in the second round of the playoffs to make it to the AFC Championship game). McCoy completed 18 of 31 passes for 205 yards and no INTs in a thrilling, close game, where McCoy displayed the poise of a veteran. With 2:40 left in regulation he led the Browns on a perfectly executed 60 yard touchdown drive to send the game into overtime. On their first possession in overtime starting from their own 36 yard line, McCoy would lead the Browns deep into Jets territory, ending with a 16 yard throw to Chansi Stuckey at the Jets 32 yard line, where Stuckey, in an attempt to fight for a few extra yard would be stripped of the ball, with the Jets recovering his fumble. The Jets would go on to win the game.
- Week 11 at Jacksonville, McCoy would complete 17 of 28 passes for 241 yards with a TD and one INT, rushing for 39 yards in a close loss. Unfortunately McCoy was sacked six times and played most of the 2nd half with a high ankle sprain injury which would keep him sidelined for the next 3 games.
- Returning to play at Cincinnati week 15, McCoy would complete 19 of 25 passes for 243 yards with 2 TDs and no INTs. McCoy made it close, engineering a flawless 2 minute 88 yard TD drive at the 4 minute mark, completing 4 passes for 89 yards, including a 46 yard TD throw with 2:15 left to pull them within 2 points of the Bengals, but the Bengals would hold on for the 2 point win.
- In the final two weeks, the Browns would lose to the Ravens and the Steelers. In both games, with an injury plagued o-line and the worst RT in NFL history in John St. Claire, McCoy would have rough outings against two of the best defenses in the league in two ugly losses, where the entire offense seemed to have quit on their lame duck coach.
Year Two: The Debacle
- The Browns fired coach Eric Mangini and his OC Brian Daboll in January of 2011, and disgruntled DC Rob Ryan left to take an offer from the Cowboys. When asked about Colt McCoy upon his departure, Ryan stated "This kid’s gonna be a superstar".
- The Browns hired Rams OC Pat Shurmur as head coach heading into the 2011 season. Shurmur refused to hire an offensive coordinator, deciding as a rookie HC that he was ready to perform duties as HC, OC and play caller (in a lockout year to boot). Shurmur's brief, ill-fated 2 year stint as a Browns HC has subsequently been roundly and universally criticized.
- With the lockout in effect, there are conflicting reports about when Pat Shurmur was actually able to meet Colt McCoy in person for the first time. There were also rumors that several weeks before preseason began, McCoy somehow secretly obtained a copy of Shurmur's "playbook" (rumored to be some version of the "WCO" offense, but later revealed to be some unidentifiable concoction of rambling, untested formations and experiments). McCoy took this "playbook", along with a number of his teammates and conducted his own version of a minicamp, since there would be no training camp that year. An inauspicious start to what would ultimately become a convoluted, unmitigated disaster of a season for Pat Shurmur and his roster, and a rough ride for for Colt McCoy.
- With a 32 year old, 6'6" 325 lb. lumbering RT Tony Pashos playing with a ruptured tendon in his foot in his final season with the team, McCoy would face another season with a weak o-line, and with a litany of cascading offensive roster debacles to follow.
- Greg Little would be his #1 target at WR, a rookie who hadn't played football since 2009, having missed his entire senior season in college due to NCAA rule violations. He would go on to compile the second highest number of drops in the NFL in 2011.
- The situation at running back for the Browns in 2011 can only be described as a debacle and a disaster. Don't take my word for it, just read this article from the Browns team site. Joe Thomas, future HOF LT for the Browns would later unload publicly on starting RB Peyton Hillis for "crippling the 2011 offense over his contract dispute, for refusing to play sick (on the advice of his agent), and for creating a distraction" (source article).
- To sum up Colt McCoy's 2011 season, led by an inept head coach with no OC after a lockout in the offseason, and with a myriad of deficiencies and distractions surrounding him on the offensive roster, the Browns went 4-11 with McCoy at QB. McCoy would throw for 2,733 yards with 14 TDs and 11 INTs. His performance throughout the season was up and down, unspectacular at best. But with the circumstances he fought through during that season, Shurmur floundering with his attempts to create a coherent playbook and game plan from week to week, and a wreck of a roster surrounding him, it was virtually impossible to evaluate him in terms of potential based on the 2011 season and heading into the 2012 season.
2012 and Beyond: An Unknown Quantity, or a Valuable Asset?
Obviously, 2012 was a lost season for McCoy. The Browns drafted Brandon Weeden in 2012, and as a 29 year old 1st round draft pick there was not a snowball's chance in hell that he was not going to be handed the starting QB position from day 1. Make no mistake about it, there was no competition for the starting QB position for the 2012 Browns season. Weeden was going to start unless his performance in training camp was an unmitigated disaster.
Of course, once Weeden was drafted, this was the correct decision. The team could not afford to let a 29 year old 1st round draft pick sit for a year. The clock was ticking on his career longevity from the moment he was drafted, and the only viable option was to start him in 2012 and give him the season to find out what they had.
The bottom line is the Browns were never able to find out, definitively, what they had in Colt McCoy. I believe he is at worst, one of the best backup QBs in the NFL today. I also believe that his ceiling is much higher than most people realize. He has the talent, the arm, the head on his shoulders, the drive to become a very good starting QB in the NFL.
The 49rs have their QBOTF. Kaepernick is phenomenal. Now they have an outstanding insurance policy backing him up, and quite possibly an asset that will pay dividends (perhaps an additional high round draft pick or valuable roster addition via a trade) down the road.