McCoy Plays Well In Loss to Steelers

I will still say that there is no such thing as a moral victory in the NFL.  There is certainly no moral victory when you lose to a divisional rival like the Steelers 28-10, no matter how much of an underdog your team might be.  And so the Browns lose on a day when Browns fans should see a positive first outing from Colt McCoy despite two interceptions.  Browns fans can unite in anger at a lack of penalties called against James Harrison.  Browns fans should be able to unite in the fact that the Browns again went out and played what felt like a very competent game against one of the very best teams in the league.  None of this makes the loss “OK” but it is still nice to see some progress.

First things first, let’s talk about Eric Mangini.  I know a lot of you hate him. I even get it to an extent.  You never get a second chance to make a first impression and Eric Mangini treated his first impression worse than infants treat diapers.  In my mind though, I gave Mangini something of a clean slate when Holmgren decided to keep him around for another year.  What am I getting at?  Anyone who wants to cast blame at Mangini for Chansi Stuckey fumbling a punt after Mangini accepted two penalties that cause the Steelers to kick it three times is crazy.  The Browns were deep in their own territory and Mangini was trying to improve their field position.  Chansi Stuckey is the backup punt returner, but so what?  The Browns were down 14-3 and Mangini wanted to improve field position.

Just because it doesn’t work out in the end doesn’t make it the wrong decision.  Players are expected to play, and it isn’t out of the realm of reasonability to expect Chansi Stuckey to at least execute a fair catch.  Hate on Mangini for any number of reasons if you must, but be reasonable.  If you want to disagree with Mangini, I think it would have been worth taking a flyer on challenging the first TD pass that Wallace caught from Roethlisberger.  I never got to see a super slo-mo version of the play, but it looked enough like a bobble to me that I might have reviewed that play.

Now, let’s talk about James Harrison.  Except for the fact that he is a Steeler, I like the guy.  I even didn’t hate him after he tackled the drunk Browns fan a few years back.  I have openly bemoaned the fact that the Steelers find players like that undrafted when the Browns couldn’t even draft successfully.  All that being said, the NFL needs to take stiff action against both Harrison and the referees in the game today.  Harrison knocked two of the Browns offensive players out of the game via brutal helmet-to-helmet hits.

Now, just like I said about TJ Ward’s hit on Shipley, I have mixed emotions.  On the one hand, I wish that football players could make football plays by hitting guys who have the ball and who could potentially catch the ball.  At the same time, I totally understand what the NFL is going for in terms of protecting players.  As a result, I will just go by what I understand to be the rules and act accordingly.

What I understand to be the rules indicates to me that James Harrison should have had two 15 yard penalties lobbied against him.  Now, that alone doesn’t help the Browns who had to play without Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi in the second half, but at least I wouldn’t feel like the Browns were completely disrespected by the refs who didn’t throw a flag on either play.  Also, I will withhold judgement for Goodell and the NFL league office, but their judgements better be swift and harsh considering what TJ Ward and the Browns had to go through in the wake of the Jordan Shipley hit.

Let’s finish this on a positive note.  Despite my greatest fears, Colt McCoy played a very nice first game in the NFL.  McCoy played confident.  He read the defense and tried to direct traffic on multiple occasions when he needed his outlet players to move to space.  He used his feet effectively to avoid the rush.  He threw the ball well.  His first interception was off by inches and might have even caught the receiver’s hands.  He utilized his tight ends and outlet passes, but he also hit Chansi Stuckey meaning that he was targeting receivers.  This is a stark contrast from the Brady Quinn dump down game that I expected.  Of course, anyone would be hampered in the passing game when two receivers (Cribbs, Massaquoi) were already knocked out. Literally.

In the end, the Steelers were just too much for the Browns on this day.  Still, considering the Browns lost and had further injury problems via (illegal?) hits by James Harrison, the Browns did pretty well.  The defense is still plagued by their over-blitzing.  The secondary got beat up again, particularly Eric Wright who got beat in coverage and also failed miserably trying to tackle Hines Ward on his touchdown.  We know the Browns still need a lot more players.  Even all that said, something about this game seemed like some progress in the end, despite the score.

  • Mark

    Sure there are positives to take out of this game and the season so far. But let’s not get carried away. We are still 1-5 and that’s not good. And I’m just about sick of it. When are we going to get a coach, QB, team that can win these games?

  • humboldt

    I didn’t get to watch or listen to this game, but thanks for the even-handed write up Craig. Doesn’t sound like undue blame can be put on Mangini for this one, and perhaps he and Daboll actually crafted a decent plan to ease McCoy in(?). If it’s not progress, at least its not regression

  • brownsfan019

    I thought McCoy did well on the road for his first game. Now if he only had more than TE’s to throw the ball to, we might have an average offense.

    Side note on McCoy’s family in the stands – ZERO Browns gear on them. Dad was in a Texas polo and the women had nothing Texas or Browns related gear on. Is that b/c they were in Pitt or b/c they are really indifferent to the Browns as long as the checks clear?

  • BisonDeleSightings

    23-33, 281 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT (one coming off a drop), 22 rushing yards against Pittsburgh in his NFL debut…I’ll take it. There were some good plays and some bad plays, but I think many of us were expecting a Doug Pedersen-level performance out of Colt today. As the game progressed, he showed patience, confidence, and even some playmaking ability. He’s never going to be Peyton Manning, but what we saw today leads me to believe he won’t be the bust our previous draftees, Charlie Frye and Brady Quinn, were.

  • Mark

    @brownsfan019 – I noticed that too. I think it was because they were in Pittsburgh.

  • David Stern

    At what point do we start to acknowledge that Eric Wright is not very good?

  • BisonDeleSightings

    Another note about McCoy’s game today: his 281 passing yards were the most a Browns QB has had against Pittsburgh since Kelly Holcomb in the 1/5/2003 playoff game. For regular season games, it’s the most since Tim Couch on 9/17/2000.

    What a bad decade of football.

  • bobby

    McCoy looked real good to me compared to what I had expected. He was confident out there, something that I dont know if we can ever say about BQ or DA. He was pretty decisive in what he would do, and you could see progress within the game which is nice. He should be playing again next week with both QBs sidelined, and if he even ties what he did in this game, I would keep him in for the rest of the way. The main thing I would like to see him do, but I understand its a lot now, is make adjustments at the line like we see Delholmme.

    Other then that you cant say too much about this game that is positive. Hillis did what could be expected against constant run blitzes. I am very disapointed in the D, and more specifically the DBs. Brown cant cover deep and Wright cant cover or tackle.

  • Stinkfist

    @7, yikes!

  • S-Dub

    Pretty impressed with Colt. Do we start him for the rest of the year? Or, if we get to week 10, with shaky QB play, do we start him the rest of the year? I say yes.

    Harrison should be suspended. Seriously. Led with the crown against Cribbs and hit a defenseless WR on MoMass.

    I think Mangini deserves a 3rd year. I hate DaBoll though and feel that he can only call plays for half a game. We also need to start Mike Adams at S and sit Ae Elam. The guy is terrible and can’t tackle. We could be 3-3 right now. I feel Daboll more than Mangini are the reasons for us not having a better record. A little more talent and Mangini ould take us to the playoffs.

  • S-Dub

    @Bobby: Sheldon falls down like 3 times a game doesn’t he? Pathetic.

  • Vorax

    Yeah, Colt looked pretty not bad-ish… I liked his poise.
    CRIBBS UPDATES PLEASE. It made me sick watching that hit.
    I’m praying he’ll be ok.

  • Harv 21

    In Daboll’s defense (never thought I’d write that) he protected Colt pretty well, having him throw a lot on first down and minimizing tons of third-and-impossibles.

    Colt may turn out to be nothing special, but sure enjoyed his accuracy on most passes, and his perfect touch on a few despite heavy pressure. It was just last week that Delhomme couldn’t lob a pass over a blitzer and a pick-6 resulted. The kid seems to have some basic passing skills, and stayed cool.

    We were not going to win this game, even with zero turnovers. Ben was shaking off our pressure like a college kid playing football in the backyard with his little brothers and cousins. We simply need more players on both sides of the ball. Right now we have almost no impact players, opposing coaches just need to execute whatever they do, not account for any of our guys. H & H cannot erase the sins of a decade of bad drafts in Year 1. Two more drafts like this, with the right system in place, we should right there.

  • Reggie Ruckus

    Agreed on Harrison. The NFL either needs to do away with the helmet on helmet rule or enforce the heck out of it. At this point it’s just as subjectiveas the infamous Tom Brady “tuck rule”. Take a look at that poor kid from Rutgers left paralyzed over the weekend. The NFL’s response to head injuries is as lacking as MLB’s attention to steroids during the 90’s and early part of this decade.

    Like most, I feared Colt McCoy would be the 2nd coming of Spergon Wynn. Kudos to the coaches for letting him throw on first down and to McCoy for having stones the size of Texas. The kid didn’t get rattled all day in the hostile Heinz Field. Agree with the DaBoll bashing. I think Mangini deserves a 3rd year (don’t want to see the roster blown up again) but we need someone new calling the plays. Combine a West Coast passing game with a power running game (and could we please find a deep threat at WR?) and we might have a real offense.

  • Bryan

    I got what I wanted out of Colt today. Overall good decisions. No real signs of being nervous. A few more weeks and we will know if this is truly our guy of the future. Can’t judge him on one game. That seems to happen too much with our fans….Go Spergyn Wynn..ha ha

  • SDA

    Colt looked better than I expected. Eric Wright has to go He gets burnt every game. He single-handedly lost 2 games this year. And yes Harrison needs suspended. He went after cribs on purpose.

  • Bryan

    I got what I wanted out of Colt today. Overall good decisions. No real signs of being nervous. A few more weeks and we will know if this is truly our guy of the future. Can’t judge him on one game. That seems to happen too much with our fans….Go Spergyn Wynn..lol

  • jimkanicki

    craig, the debate about respect for hard-hitting football is beside the point.

    the nfl, on the heels of congressional inquiries on the rate of early onset alzheimers for pro football players, instituted with much publicity a whole ‘WE TAKE HEAD INJURIES SERIOUS’ policy.

    it was shown to be utter b***s*** today.

    imagine: if rooney could write a check for $50,000 to have the browns’ #1 WR and #1 playmaker miss the game, do you think he would? for the browns,, maybe not. but if it were peyton manning and reggie wayne? you bet he’d write the check. and if it were manning or wayne or brady or … name a pretty boy… there would have been a flag.

    it would be fine if harrison is suspended, though i doubt it will happen. i expect he’ll be fined around 50K. again, so what. neither punishment helps the browns win today.

    but the suspension that SHOULD occur is of that officiating crew. to do otherwise leaves the NFL vulnerable to basic OSHA penalties and union-led lawsuits pertaining to unsafe work environments. yes, we all know the nfl is unsafe. but it’s demonstrably more unsafe when incompetent referees are enforcing the ‘safety’ rules that are in place.

    (i am still ripped.)

    great job by mccoy today. great game plan by daboll/mangini.

    this loss was a win.

  • http://twitter.com/dj_2 DJ

    Couldn’t get the game down here in NC, but after watching some highlights, it seems to me McCoy did fine. Still would like to know whether the Steelers brought their normal havoc on defense or just played base defense without a lot of blitzing.

    After looking at the rest of the Browns’ schedule, it looks brutal after the bye in two weeks:

    NE
    NYJ
    @ JAX
    CAR
    @ MIA
    @ BUF
    @ CIN
    BAL
    PIT

    I see three definitely winnable games: Week 12 vs. Carolina, Week 14 at Buffalo and Week 15 at Cincinnati (Week 11 at Jacksonville and Miami are possibilities as well, but they are tough). The question: If the Browns finish 4-12 or worse, with that meat grinder of a sked, does Mangini survive or get the axe?

  • SDA

    survive He has to Mangini has this team playing like winners. We need some talent at a few positions and we will turn things around. Anyone know why Wright is still starting? Is Haden that far away from starting? honestly he cant do any worse.

  • Bryan

    I don’t know I wold still rather see Joe Haden start over Sheldon Brown. I don’t like giving up on Eric Wright just yet. TJ Ward still my favorite Defensive guy this year.

  • http://gravatar.com PayDaMan

    @DJ They blitzed a ton. It will probably be the best and most blitzing that Colt will see all year. Which is a nice thing to think about.

  • http://www.dominiclongo.com Dominic

    I must say, I disagree about not blaming Mangini for Stuckey fumbling it. I understand in the end it is his fault, but if you watch the previous two punts, Stuckey backtracked on each of them, and is lucky he didn’t fumble the second one. I think one of the announcers mentioned wind playing a factor, but at that point, when your PR is clearly not seeing the ball/reading it well, I think you need to just realize it and take the ball. I imagine since I didn’t feel comfortable with him handling a second, and third punt there were others out there.

  • brisco

    excuse-the(-).my-space-bar-is-broken.lots-of-positives-to-take-from-this-because-honestly-we-all-knew-they-would-lose-but-expected-them-to-play-well.Matt-Roth-continues-to-get-my-vote-as-our-defensive-mvp.Fujita-has-brought-toughness-and-professionalism.ward/haden-combo-still-getting-better.the-weak-link-is-eric-wright-who-simply-cant-be-left-on-an-island-no-mater-how-effective-our-passrush-is.McCoy-played-well-too-against-the-leagues-best.I-say-let-him-start.he-needs-the-experience-and-truthfully-he-cant-be-worse-then-jake-delhomme.

  • JackGonzo

    The thing I liked most about Colt today is he got better as the game went on. He was confident as it progressed against the best blitzing team in the NFL. If he played that well against the Steelers he should have a lights out game against a Saints team whose defense isn’t even in the discussion.

    James Harrison is a dirty player, period. Yes, I understand the helmet to helmet is only for defenseless receivers. The Cribbs hit was as he was going down. Unnecessary roughness at the very least. Now the Mass hit wasn’t helmet to helmet, but it was still a forearm to the head, which is also illegal. If the NFL is serious about cleaning up the head shots then they need to come down hard on him. There’s a difference between playing hard and playing dirty and Harrison is almost always on the side of dirty.

  • Tron

    I couldn’t get over the end of the second quarter, with 3 seconds left Mangini made them punt from their own endzone and PLAYED FOR THE RETURN?! with 3 seconds left, and the entire Steelers line standing on the goalline, youre not going to get a return, thats when you send all 11 and play for the block to get a TD or safety. That was some bonehead coaching.

  • Morph

    Those of you defending Wright, why? The Ward TD was a perfect example of the sub-par player he has turned out to be. On 3rd and goal he goes for the pick instead of the tackle. So instead of holding on third and giving up a FG that would have made it a 7 pt game or one score, he goes for the highlight with no help on the backside and allows the game to be a 11 pt game. This was the defining play of the game.

  • http://gravatar.com PayDaMan

    Things Id like to see from the Browns/McCoy for next week: 1) Look into a trade for a young WR. Saints, NYG, Dallas should all be called. A 4/5th receiver on one of those teams would be a starter with the Browns. 2) Let Colt McCoy rip it down the field more. I wanna see what he looks like throwing deep posts and other 30+ yard passes. 3) Get Carlton Mitchell reps this week. He reminds me of Mike Wallace who shredded us today. He is the fasted WR on the team and was most likely Colt’s main guy when he was running the scout team.The chemistry should be there.This shouldn’t be hard considering the circumstances with MoMass and Cribbs. 4) Get Mike Bell involved more. This is another easy one since he will have more then 4 days to learn the playbook. 5) I would like to see Colt start audibling from the line. 5) Colt needs to start throwing the ball away more. 5 sacks doesn’t reflect the play of the line today. He stayed in the pocket way to long and also refused to throw the ball out of bounds. Remember this is the same guy who took 19 sacks in two games last year.

  • bensaduesh

    bmac is released and before he left he annointed defensive backs eric wright and sheldon brown as the two worst of all time

  • TSR3000

    Mangini should be fired for bringing in massaquoi and robiskie. Such wasted picks

  • Hamfist

    @28
    I don’t want to see McCoy try to throw ANYTHING downfield unless the receiver is open. This has been one of my biggest irritants with Cleveland fans. DO NOT throw the ball to a covered receiver. If the short guy is the open one, he gets the ball.

    Ok, rant over.

    As to CMC’s play, I liked it. Seemed calm, smart with the ball, aware of pressure, and accurate. All I could ever ask for in a QB.

    I’m of mixed feelings for starting him for the rest of the season, considering how easy it is to ruin a young QB. But, with this year’s QB draft class, we HAVE to know what we’ve got. Simply put. So, I say leave him in. Sorry, Seneca.

    Last, I blame the media for driving the head to head shots. It’s all about the highlight reel now.

  • Kevin

    “… had further injury problems via (illegal?) hits by James Harrison…”

    CORRECTION: “… had further injury problems via illegal hits by James Harrison…”

  • Kevin

    I’ve got to say, I am very pleased with McCoy’s performance. He even seemed to remember how to step up into the rush as the game wore on. I suppose if I saw the Steeler D taking cheap shots at my teammates, my natural human instinct would be to run as well. He was poised and accurate. Both interceptions were deflections. I like his confidence and mobility. I’m not ready to anoint him the savior yet, but I am excited to see his next few starts.

  • http://www.heyhokie.com Vengeful Pat

    Sheldon Brown actually had a great game. He made a couple of pass-breakups and seemed to cover pretty well. The one play you all are burning him for where he got beat deep was Elam’s fault. Brown was playing the underneath route expecting safety help over the top, but the safety help never came.