The shame of yesterday’s Browns 20-10 home loss to Atlanta was they played well enough to win with Seneca Wallace at the helm. Seneca is the perfect backup QB. He does everything just well enough coming off bench, but isn’t so spectacular that you pine for him to be your #1 guy (unless that town is Cleveland and the team is the Browns). The mobility makes all the difference.
If we didn’t learn that yesterday, we never will.
Watching Jake Delhomme, yesterday’s #2 QB come off the bench and hobble around on an ankle that clearly wasn’t healed begs the question to be asked; if you aren’t comfortable enough to put rookie QB Colt McCoy into a game, then why is he on the roster?
All the Falcons had to do was watch Delhomme’s first play to know he wasn’t right and couldn’t escape any sort of pressure. So the Falcons rush overpowered the Browns offensive line and anytime they got near Jake, the pass was either battered down, thrown away, or he was intercepted.
This is not an indictment of Delhomme in any way. While I clearly acknowledge he isn’t the second coming of “The Lord” Bernie Kosar, I give him a ton of credit for showing the guts to get out there and battle as best as he could yesterday. The point is he should never have been out there in the first place.
And this brings us to McCoy.
The Browns had multiple opportunities to draft McCoy in the first three rounds and passed him over. Only his (and Jimmy Classen’s) slide made him available at #85 where the Browns snagged him. Several reports had the Browns all set to take DE Corey Peters from Kentucky, only to see him taken by Atlanta two picks before they were going to.
In the preseason, many clamored to see more of the star from Texas. When we got our chance, not many came away impressed. What struck me when looking at McCoy in an NFL game was how small he looked. The knocks on him were the lack of size, small hands, played mostly out of the shotgun, and showed average arm strength. But he was a four year starter at one of the top programs in the country and won more games than any QB in the history of College Football.
His preseason with the Browns was so lackluster that there were rumblings that he was in danger of not making the team. In the end, Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert, and Eric Mangini chose to keep McCoy over veteran Brett Ratliff.
Yesterday’s QB injury situation told me all I need to know about who really made that final roster decision. Holmgren and Heckert, not Mangini.
Its no secret the affinity Mangini had towards Ratliff, who he brought over with him from the Jets. He was last year’s third QB but never saw the field. In preseason games, he clearly looked more confident moving the offense than McCoy did, but McCoy’s long-term prospects seemed better. But really, are they?
On to yesterday. Mangini had to know that Delhomme couldn’t move. I mean, we all saw it after one play. But it was the Head Coach’s choice to make Jake the #2 QB rather than the emergency third QB. When Wallace sprained his ankle, Mangini decided to go to a 80-year old moving Delhomme rather than a 100% McCoy, who’s best quality at this point is his escapability.
“Jake was a better option,” said Mangini, when asked about playing the rookie. The more we saw Delhomme, the worst he moved, AND there was a second half still to play!
The point is simple, if McCoy can’t play under these circumstances on his home field on a beautiful day, than he isn’t good enough to be on the roster. Think if Ratliff was still here, Mangini wouldn’t have gone to him yesterday? He absolutely would have. This is a guy still auditioning for his job and he is willing to go with a gimpy Delhomme over the third round draft pick, who was the winningest QB in College Football history.
I think that speaks volumes about McCoy.
It’s not like this situation doesn’t come up elsewhere. The Arizona Cardinals voluntarily have gone to undrafted rookie Max Hall at Quarterback after an impressive training camp (anyone is better than Derek Anderson). He beat the defending Super Bowl champion Saints yesterday. The Carolina Panthers have turned their reins over to Claussen, a second round pick out of Notre Dame.
Now I’m not sitting here saying the Browns should be starting Colt, but choosing to play a clearly injured Delhomme off the bench in place of the injured Wallace speaks to the coaching staff’s lack of confidence in their rookie QB.
In the meantime, if neither veteran signal callers can go in six days, McCoy will have to to his first NFL snaps on the road, in Pittsburgh.
I’m sure that would go well.
(AP Photo/Mike Roemer)