McCoy gave Browns reason to believe

The Browns’ plan under Mike Holmgren called for rookie QB Colt McCoy to sit and watch this season. It’s something that never sat well with McCoy.

Given that Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace were also new to the Browns and the system, McCoy never practiced with the first team during training camp. In fact, McCoy said the only reps he really got were during the preseason games. That’s where he really got his feet wet.

As fate would have it, the Browns asked McCoy to start against the Steelers, and it’s almost as if no one believed in him. Even coach Eric Mangini said that when McCoy got in the huddle with the first team during practice last week, the rookie had such command that everyone kind of laughed, as if to say, “Who does this kid think he is!? OK, if he thinks he’s all that, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.”

Truth is, McCoy had to win his teammates over in a week.

One almost gets the sense that the only person who believed in McCoy going into the game — on the road against the best blitzing defense in the NFL — was McCoy.

What I learned last week watching film on McCoy, and then confirmed during Sunday’s broadcast, is that he is very accurate throwing the ball.

Both of his interceptions against the Steelers went off the hands of his intended receivers, and what I saw was a quarterback who grew as the game went on. Earlier in the game, when he felt pressure, he tucked the ball and his vision came down because he started panicking and running. During the second half, he kept this vision down the field and he was running to throw as opposed to running to run.

I don’t know that you could ever put a rookie quarterback in a more difficult situation in his NFL debut than what McCoy faced, yet I never saw him with that deer-in-the-headlights look.

I was very encouraged with what I saw from McCoy. I suspect he started to change the team’s mind, and that they feel much better about him going into his second start. I guarantee you that if Wallace is healthy, he’s the starter. But if only Delhomme is healthy, the Browns will probably start McCoy.

Based on what I saw, the Browns are talking right now about what they saw on Sunday. Is it real? Can we believe in it? McCoy made the Browns pause, and they want to see more. I’m not saying McCoy is Tom Brady, but remember, the Patriots didn’t think Brady was who he was when he first got started.

Every now and then, fate can throw you a bone. The Browns have started 16 quarterbacks since they re-entered the league in 1999. That’s a lot. There’s more to be seen, but maybe fate has thrown the Browns a bone.

— Solomon Wilcots

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