The Cleveland Browns currently stand at 1-1 on this young season. Were it not for the defense falling asleep at the wheel, there’s a pretty good chance the team would be 2-0.
The Browns didn’t look particularly good in either game, but they were still good enough that they should have won game one and they did find a way to win game two. Sometimes it can be hard to really quantify exactly what the Browns’ problems are. What area is the team still lacking in?
Everyone probably agrees the team needs plenty of help at WR. Depth on the OL and DL are issues. The Browns could use at least another CB to play opposite Joe Haden, and the Browns could use an upgrade at LB in terms of adding a physical freak. It seems like most people would mention a lot of positions before they got to QB Colt McCoy. But is Colt a bigger problem than we realize?
There’s no question McCoy had a rocky start to the season against Cincinnati, but he rebounded with a nice game against the Colts. In that game against Indianapolis, Colt was 22-32 (68.75%) for 211 yards with 1 TD and 0 INT. That was good for a very respectable 97.3 QB rating. On the season now McCoy is completing 56.9% of his passes with 3TD and 1 INT. His rating of 82.2 isn’t great, but he is one spot below Joe Flacco and one spot above Eli Manning in the rankings.
So it’s not like McCoy is looking like a bust. He’s not at all. In fact, I believe that he has the potential to develop into a very good NFL starter. But is that good enough to one day make the Browns Super Bowl contenders? Or are the Browns doomed to be perennial playoff chasers with McCoy at the helm?
This question came up this weekend as I was discussing the Browns with one of my friends. He mentioned how we always wondered what would happen if you put Tom Brady or Peyton Manning on the Browns. Would it matter? Could they make the team any more competitive?
We might be seeing our answer this season. Without Peyton Manning, the Indianapolis Colts quite frankly look like…the Browns. The receiving corps is the same. Joseph Addai is still the RB. Nothing has really changed with the Colts, except Peyton Manning is no longer their QB. Without him, the team looks downright pedestrian. No imagination on offense, getting even a first down is a chore, and the defense looks more suspect than usual.
Those on the other side of the argument would point out that the Patriots lost Tom Brady a couple years ago and still were able to thrive with Matt Cassel at QB. But thrive isn’t really the right word. The Patriots did go 11-5 that year, but they also missed the playoffs. The previous year they went 16-0 with Tom Brady, and after a 10-6 season in which Brady wasn’t yet back to full health, the Patriots returned to form at 14-2 in Brady’s first healthy season back.
The difference between the Colts and Patriots might be the difference between Matt Cassel and Kerry Collins. Which goes back to the question about Colt McCoy. Is Colt McCoy another Matt Cassel, a guy who is good enough to be the starting QB on a playoff caliber team? Or does he have the potential to be a Super Bowl winning QB like Tom Brady?
Look at the last 10 QBs to win the Super Bowl:
2010 – Aaron Rodgers
2009 – Drew Brees
2008 – Ben Roethlisberger
2007 – Eli Manning
2006 – Peyton Manning
2005 – Ben Roethlisberger
2004 – Tom Brady
2003 – Tom Brady
2002 – Brad Johnson
2001 – Tom Brady
I suppose it’s debatable how elite Ben Roethlisberger really is, but I consider him to be in the elite class. I would argue that only 2 QBs outside the elite class have won the Super Bowl in the last 10 years, Brad Johnson and Eli Manning.
Is this just indicative of the last decade? Consider the previous 10 Super Bowls:
2000 – Trent Dilfer
1999 – Kurt Warner
1998 – John Elway
1997 – John Elway
1996 – Brett Favre
1995 – Troy Aikman
1994 – Steve Young
1993 – Troy Aikman
1992 – Troy Aikman
1991 – Mark Rypien
1990 – Jeff Hostetler
So here I would say that Dilfer, Rypien, and Hostetler were outside the realm of elite QBs. But again, in order to win a Super Bowl, you probably ought to have an elite QB.
The Browns will have plenty of time to address this question and to evaluate Colt McCoy. I am not here to say that McCoy can’t be an elite QB someday. I’m willing to let him prove himself and to find out for sure what his potential is.
The bigger question that I am asking, then, is what would happen if the Browns did have an elite QB right now? Is it possible the Browns could be a lot better team than they currently appear to be?
I don’t have the answers, these are just the kinds of questions I ponder with my friends. So I turn it over to you, our faithful readers: Do you think Colt McCoy can be a Super Bowl winning QB? If not, how long should the Browns wait to address this? And do you think that an elite QB on the team this year would make the Browns a threat to win the division and be a Super Bowl contender?
Photo Credit: (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)