Trying to establish a starting quarterback is always the toughest question for a coach and an organization. It’s always been my mentality that you have to play a young quarterback to know what you have in him.
There’s an interesting situation going on right now in Cleveland, where you have two veterans in Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, neither of whom is completely healthy. Delhomme is a long-established starter in the league on the backend of his career, but he’s most likely done. Wallace has floated on the edge of being a potential starter and has looked good when he’s in, but has never had that extended look as a guy who can carry a team. The Browns drafted Colt McCoy for these reasons.
McCoy is playing like a rookie, just like you’d expect, although it has been in limited exposure. Given their division and the state of the AFC, it’s tough to imagine the Browns making the playoffs.
It’s time to go with McCoy and find out how good he can be. I’ve always believed the only way to learn is to play. Whatever the circumstances are next season, the Browns will be happy those repetitions are under his belt as opposed to starting over.
Can McCoy play in this league? The Browns don’t know. They drafted him high enough to indicate they’re going to take a shot with him. It’s not like McCoy is surrounded by no talent. The Browns have a fairly decent offensive line, so he won’t get beat up, and they can run the ball. They should find out what McCoy can do now, so that at the very least they can decide in the offseason what direction they need to go.
If the Browns don’t play McCoy, they won’t know. But when you have to hide a player, then you already have your answer.
From what I’ve seen, McCoy is like most rookies. He has shown some signs, but he’ll have to play a lot more to make the determination if the game is too big for him. The thing with McCoy is what everyone talks about: he’s been a winner at every level. Physically, I’m a little suspect of his skills. Winning at this level is different, but that’s no reason to think he can’t do it. He’s in a good place to try to develop those skills, but we’re a long ways away from saying he’s definitely an NFL player.
Can you ruin a quarterback this way? If you can, he probably wasn’t very good to begin with.
— Brian Billick
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