April 23, 2014

Are you ready for another Browns QB controversy?

With the recent stories surrounding Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace, it’s appearing inevitable that we’ll have a heated QB controversy in Berea over the next few months. No trades appear imminent and so, for now, Mike Holmgren and company appear to be moving forward with the two veterans and rookie Brandon Weeden leading the race together for the signal-caller position.

And get me clear on what I mean by a QB controversy: No starter has been directly named yet. There’s going to be an open competition – at least for the next several months – and there will be some unhappy fans no matter what the final call is by the Browns staff. There will be confusion and there will be frustration, and it’s going to be all over the news for quite a while.

As you can read in my takes in WFNY’s draft recap post, I’m a bit pessimistic about the actuality of Weeden starting from day one. Yes, more pressure is applied now than ever to first-round NFL draft picks to start immediately, especially QBs. I’ve got no doubt in the world that Indianapolis will start Andrew Luck and Washington will start Robert Griffin III when the season begins in September.

But, does that mean I’m confident Weeden won’t start by the end of September? Not necessarily, as things could be a bit back-and-forth. Injuries always happen, especially to Cleveland athletes. And, even though I think Weeden will pick up the West Coast offense faster than most rookies (that’s a benefit of 28-year-old wisdom), the QB position is still up in the air quite a bit.

I think the Browns are a bit more confident in both McCoy and Wallace than most people are portraying. They aren’t looking at those two guys as merely backups with no shot to start this season. Thus, the Browns likely are being silent on declaring a defined starter in order to push all three guys over the next few months. That’s only natural.

Looking back in order to tell the future, let’s review what happened at the draft press conference and what’s gone on recently with McCoy and Wallace since the draft.

First, starting with the team’s comments after the draft, head coach Pat Shurmur set the tone (albeit a bit confusingly) by saying he expects Weeden to compete to start and hopefully contribute soon.

“We’ve added three [offensive] players and we expect them to compete to start and contribute what we hope to be immediately,” Shurmur said Friday night. “We’ll see how it plays out. We got a running back [Trent Richardson], a quarterback [Weeden] and right tackle [Mitchell Schwartz]. We feel like we got three players that are going to be there for us.”

Shurmur firmly denied early reports that the Browns were going to trade McCoy. He said simply that a competition is underway.

“We’ve drafted a quarterback to come in and compete with him [McCoy] — at this point — and that’s where it’s at,” he said.

In the end though about Weeden, Shurmur declared that “We have the guy that we think is our guy as we move forward.”

Woof. So it’s obviously clear Weeden’s the guy for the future — nobody with a sane mind would say anything differently at this point. But what’s going to happen then with McCoy and Wallace at least for the immediate future and for this season?

Let’s start with McCoy, the incumbent and former fan favorite.

It was reported yesterday that McCoy participated as expected in the team’s voluntary offseason conditioning program. He has not requested a trade and hasn’t made any noteworthy comments to the media since Weeden was selected No. 22 overall on Thursday.

Before the draft, though, team officials even told ESPN’s Bob Holtzman that they expected McCoy to take a “big leap forward” this season.

Here’s the exact quote from Holtzman last Thursday aternoon, in saying why the Browns were not expected to take a QB high in the draft.

“They expect McCoy to make a big leap from last year to this year,” Holtzman reported. “They are comfortable if he’s their starting quarterback.”

Holmgren still maintains that he likes McCoy and, apropos, coyly described the need for another guy in Weeden.

“I like him a lot,” Holmgren said about McCoy after the Weeden pick. “He’s tough, but [we] still wanted to see if someone else could be the man.”

In the case of McCoy and Weeden co-existing this season, Holmgren also seemed quite confident in the Longhorn’s ability to make things work.

“That could be a difficult situation except if it is ever going to work, it will work if that happens, because Colt McCoy is a special young man,” Holmgren said recently. “Of course he wants to play, they all want to play. Again, nothing has been done yet, we don’t know how it is going to sort itself out. But, if that were to be the case, at some point, I think we have the best chance of making that work because of who the people are. It is never easy, everyone wants to play. But, you only have one ball and only one guy can play at a time.

Holmgren seemed OK about having those three compete and remain on the roster for now.

“I always had four quarterbacks in camp when I was coaching,” Holmgren said. “Of course, when you get to 52 players, that’s something else.”

“I’m not going to speculate on anything,” Holmgren added. “We’ll wait and see.”

On the flip side, Wallace is a guy who’s been around Holmgren’s West Coast system for quite some time now. He made noise last season when speculations were flying everywhere that he wasn’t being a team player and was unwilling to mentor McCoy as the new apparent starter.

In an interview yesterday with 92.3 The Fan, Wallace swiftly denied these claims.

“That is not the case,” he said. “Last year going into the season, there was an open competition with me and Colt McCoy. I said if Colt was to ask me about anything I had related to the West Coast system, I was willing to do that for him.

Wallace also made it clear during the interview how he will approach the season if it is indeed the case that Weeden is the starter for the short- and long-term.

“I know my job going into my 10th season of being in this offense is to prepare Brandon Weeden to get him right and make sure he’s ready to go for day one,” Wallace said. “This is a different beast. This is a first-rounder that we drafted, 22nd overall and from a business standpoint you know and everybody else knows and outsiders know that this kid’s got to play. My job as a veteran guy is to make sure he’s ready to play.”

Those are some pretty strong comments from Wallace and the strongest we’ve really seen over the past couple days about any indications for an immediate starter.

Don’t get me wrong: Yes, of course, as I said earlier, I know that the Browns drafted Weeden to play soon. They said that immediately after the draft, and I’m sure they hope he starts soon for their PR sake. I’ve also got no doubt that, by the end of the season, he’ll be playing and there probably won’t be much of a controversy at all.

For the next few months, though, there will be a ton of questions still hovering over the Browns QB position: Who will be the starter in the first regular season game? When is Weeden expected to start for the first time? What exactly will be the role for McCoy and Wallace? Why are there no trades being explored to potentially improve other areas of the team?

Given another great press conference quote from Holmgren about McCoy’s future and an upcoming QB competition, we likely won’t have clear-cut answers on any of those anytime soon.

“I think Pat and I would answer that the same way. We now have four quarterbacks and they are going to compete, that is how I see that,” he said. “That is the way it’s always going to be. Who can determine the future? In this business, you line them up, you give it your best shot and then we have to choose. We have to choose somebody to play. Right now, we have four quarterbacks on the roster and they are going to compete for the position.”

That fourth quarterback Holmgren mentioned? That’d be former Duke QB Thaddeus Lewis. Don’t forget that Shurmur had him beforehand in St. Louis and also proclaimed in September 2011 that he might become a starting quarterback sometime in the league as well.

There ya have it folks, yet another day in QB dream land.

  • Josh

    Nothing’s up in the air and there is no controversy. Unless Weeden takes much longer to get up to speed than expected he’s starting day one.

    The only “controversey” will be who stays as the backup. And I’m not sure that’s anything worth getting too worked up about.

  • MallaLubba

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there is no controversy if we could just get a highly competent QB. I’m not even asking for a superstar anymore.
    Clear decision making from Berea would go a long way to placate the masses. (did I spell that right?)

  • Chucky Brown

    if there is any sort of controversy or any level of confidence in Mccoy, they really botched the 22 pick

    Dont know if we can look at Weeden as a project. im sure that years of throwing 97mph bb’s in the minors have had to fatigue his arm more then the average qb. Who knows what happens when he gets on the other side of 30 (or in about a year and a half)

  • Natedawg86

    Lets see by a show of hands who wants to keep a 3rd string QB for $3 MIL.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    the only way there’s a controversy is from the trolling of mary kay cabot, lazy radio hosts, and blogs looking for filler.  

    this is the ultimate manufactured story and truly is self-perpetuated by sports media outlets who are unable to uncover anything else.

  • ClevCFH

    The only controversy will be among talking radio heads, bloggers, journalists and fans. With Childress now in the mix Berea has many many years of collective offensive coaching experience. And all of them have worked with & coached pro bowl and HOF QBs. The pressure is on the collective to decide who plays when. Pressure yes. But no controversy inside the building, only on the outside. 

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I could have sworn the night of day one that both Shurmur and Heckert all but anointed Weeden as their starter.  Maybe instead of just coming out and randomly saying things these guys should put a little more thought into what they might say.  Now there is going to be a competition, no duh.  They create controversies.

  • pete

    The guy.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I’ll be your huckleberry…it’s not my $$$ what difference does it make?

  • mgbode

    I like that our real quarterback controversy is really who the QB2 will be behind Weeden (even if he doesn’t start week1, I think almost everyone expects he’s the starter at some point in 2012).

  • mgbode

    just wait until Weeden trips over his own feet on a drop-back in a preseason game like he did at the Senior Bowl (i thought of this when Mr.C hinted at a QB-controversy being drummed up this morning)

  • Harv 21

    92.3 The Fan thanks you for deeming the situation an  “inevitable controversy.” Every host desperate for shtick now has their default subject slow day after slow day, hour after hour, stupid caller after stupider caller. 

    Yeah, Jacob, I know, someone was going to say it first, but why proclaim it a controversy when it’s not? The question is no longer Why Wheeden, it’s now limited to When Wheeden. Given how far away the team still is, not really a big deal.

  • mgbode

    only if said QB3 will be 32yo in training camp

  • 216in614

    LOL I was thinking the same thing…Only in Cleveland do get a backup QB controversy. 

  • http://twitter.com/CTownPride Steve Jackman

    There may be a competition during mini-camps, OTAs, and any other offseason activities, but I would hope a starter is named at or near the outset of training camp.  I really don’t want to see 3-4 QBs splitting 1st team reps in practice and in preseason games.  Given they have a full offseason to work with, I would like to see the evaluation completed during the Summer and give one guy – whoever it is – the bulk of the 1st team reps in training camp in preparation for the regular season.

  • Harv 21

    also, it’s mildly annoying when you start typing a comment, get interrupted by pesky day job, finish comment and then see 10 prior comments already say the same thing.

    Fine, the issue appears settled. Back to work.

  • 216in614

    I’m hoping Colt starts the season he goes 4 – 0 and then we will really have a controversy on our hands. Would that be so bad?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    It would be interesting to see what the mouthpieces in Berea would say and do.  I’m sure they’d come up with some sort of BS to try and cover themselves that is unless Shurmur speaks.

  • Shadow_play

    Right, because when he throws a few picks the fans won’t be chanting for McCoy. And if he gets injured the fans won’t cheer. Because these kinds of things never occur in Cleveland.

  • BuckeyeDawg

     Hey, I’m down with that.  If McCoy starts the season, wins games, becomes Drew Brees 2.0, and Weeden never sees the field, I would love it.  Whatever wins games…

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    pfft.  has this happened?  will it happen in the next three months?  if no, then why are articles being written about it.  imo, it’s because media types in cleveland go for the low hanging fruit.  easier to create a controversy than to pick up the phone and talk to billy winn.

    weeden will have to be god awful for fans to ‘chant’ for mccoy.  you saw the qb play last year right? hey but by all means… call up a radio show and participate in the qb pretend controversy three months early.  not only that, let your buttons be pushed by a talking head willing to take the contrarian point of view.

    im wholly disappointed that wfny is playing in this arena.  there’s already one cleve dot com, guys… dont need/want another.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    you saw the qb play last year right?

    …and the running game, the blocking, the catching, the coaching…yadda yadda yadda.

  • DocZeusX

    If Brandon Weeden is not the starting quarterback on Day One, the entire organization should be tossed over the Valley View Bridge as ritual sacrifice to appease whatever angry gods Browns fans have angered to cause such endless incompetence. Parking Lot Attendants and Concession Workers too…

  • hutch058

    ok, I know i’m gonna get killed on these boards for this – but I like Wallace. I think that he is the best qb on the roster right now. 

  • Bryan

    No sure where you get this line from: “… and there will be some unhappy fans no matter what the final call is by the Browns staff.”  I don’t know a single fan who wants to watch another minute of McCoy of Wallace.  Those guys have very low ceilings.  They are backups.  This is Weeden’s show, and everyone with half a brain knows.  Given the size of your audience, posts like this are only going to add to the problem you hope to avoid.

  • CBI

    It make me throw up in my mouth, but you could be right.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    I am a little bit astonished at all the accusations being thrown about over this post. Put me on the list of people who don’t think Weeden is a total lock to start from day one. Also, how is it that this is viewed so negatively when Holmgren himself is on record this way?

    “That is the way it’s always going to be. Who can determine the future? In this business, you line them up, you give it your best shot and then we have to choose. We have to choose somebody to play. Right now, we have four quarterbacks on the roster and they are going to compete for the position.” 

    It is crazy to write here sometimes. I get accused of being a mouthpiece for Berea and now Jacob seems to be accused of being Chuck Booms’ nephew trolling the Browns hard. Should we not talk about the team with four starting quarterbacks, one of whom was drafted high a week ago?

  • Chucky Brown

    my main concern is the browns had to draft a lock starter at 22, they were not in a  place to bring in someone to compete at that slot

  • Bryan

    Craig,

    Below are two things about this piece that make it sound overly-dramatic, and very PD-esque:

    * I think the title is super dramatic.  While I agree no starter has been named, in the two years with Holmgren he always picked a clear starter before training camp, and did not let a controversy linger.  Whatever perceived controversy there was was media driven or generated by injuries.  With regards to the quote you cite, of course he is going to say politically correct things on draft day, but until there is actual evidence that there is a “controversy,” writing a post entitled, “Are you ready for another QB controversy?” is overly dramatic.

    * The insinuation that the fans are already somehow divided across QBs seems off base and designed to intentionally stir up controversy.  Most fans I talk to are excited about Weeden and have a clear understanding that he is the guy moving forward.  No one is concerned about a controversy.  They are fired up we finally have a QB with above average skillset.

    Anyway, I love the blog.  Just thought this post was a bit too much.

  • saggy

    why do so many people keep saying that Weeden is in such a great position to pick up the west coast offense because of his age (28)?  It is about EXPERIENCE, and Weeden doesn’t have that much.  Remember, when McCoy was busy at Texas, Weeden was busy being on the minor league disabled list.  It makes me nervous.  That being said, I sure hope he’s the guy.  McCoy most likely isn’t.

  • hutch058

    Well Bryan, I am one fan who would prefer wallace

  • 123

    No controversy, it’s Weeden all the way!!!!!

    GO BROWNS!

  • Natedawg86

    $$$ against the cap.

  • Bryan

    I respect your opinion.  I actually think Wallace is better than McCoy.   But based on the reactions to this post, you seem to be in a very small minority.  It seems like the vast majority of fans see Weeden as the only guy with any real chance of being above average.  I just don’ think there are enough dissenters to call it a controversy.  

  • runningbeard

    It’s crucial that all four QB’s compete because it makes everyone potentially better. You don’t want to hand the job over to Weeden, you want him to realize how much work he’s going to have to do to be ready for the season. Having him compete is the best way to keep him hungry and focused. I say keep all 4. Whoever ends up the back-up won’t be a surprise to anyone. If McCoy or Wallace is gone, it’s just a minor story.