CLEVELAND - Message to Browns President Mike Holmgren and General Manager Tom Heckart: Keep Colt McCoy as your starting quarterback.
While thousands of fans in Browns Nation, as well as many in the local and national media, are ready to put young Colt out to pasture, I am going to let history show you why McCoy should be given at least one more year as the Browns starting QB.
There are dozens of arguments for kicking Colt to the curb I've heard all of them. He's too short. Too slow. Can't read defenses. Can't figure out the West Coast Offense. Can't make decisions fast enough, and on, and on.
But what McCoy does have -- you cannot teach: toughness, leadership and the ability to lead a come-from-behind drive to win a game. He's shown all three traits this season. McCoy was dealt a bad poker hand this season. A group of receivers who couldn't start for any other NFL team. A better-than-average running game that tanked when the injury bug bite hard and an offensive line that seemed to come apart at the seems instead of gelling together. I believe Holmgren and Heckart know this, but just in case, history is on McCoy's side.
What I am about to reveal will shock you, amaze you, make your jaw hit the floor. Many of you might even tell me I made it up. Nope. It's all there for the taking, if you do the research.
So, here it is: Colt McCoy's stats are BETTER than four Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks-- all of whom won Super Bowls -- after 16 starts in the NFL. Even BETTER than two former Browns heroes who played QB. Terry Bradshaw, John Elway, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar all were worse than Colt McCoy after their first 16 starts in the NFL, at least on paper.
Here's the proof:
Colt McCoy: 58.8% comp., 3,340 yds. passing, 16 TD, 15 INT
Brian Sipe: 55.5% comp., 3,138 yds. passing, 19 TD, 24 INT
Bernie Kosar: 54.4% comp., 2,952 yds. passing, 13 TD, 9 INT
Terry Bradshaw: 46.1% comp., 2,894 yds. passing, 11 TD, 37 INT (4 Super Bowl wins, HOF)
John Elway: 49% comp., 2,492 yds. passing, 11 TD, 20 INT (2 Super Bowl wins, HOF)
Troy Aikman: 55.1% comp., 2,664 yds. passing, 12 TD, 25 INT (3 Super Bowl wins, HOF)
Steve Young: 54.9% comp., 2,722 passing yds., 9 TD, 16 INT (1 Super Bowl win, HOF)
The common thread all those QBs had going for them -- except for McCoy -- those teams gave those players at least three years to develop and built a team around them. Sipe and Kosar had multiple all-pro skill players supporting them.
Bradshaw had two HOF receivers (Lynn Swann and John Stallworth) and a HOF running back (Franco Harris).
Elway had three all-pro WRs in the 1980s and when he won back-to-back Super Bowls in the late 90s had the best running back in NFL (at the time -- Terrell Davis).
Aikman had a HOF RB (Emmitt Smith) and HOF WR (Michael Irvin), an all-pro tight end, and an offensive line that was the best in football.
Steve Young was given hand-me-downs from Joe Montana which just happened to be HOF WR Jerry Rice, and in years to come, probably another Hall-of-Fame WR, Terrell Owens.
The general rule of thumb is that it takes three full seasons for most players -- especially quarterbacks -- to begin playing up to their potential. McCoy has had just over a full year's worth of starts spread over two seasons. But what about Cam Newton's instant success many will throw in my face.? Newton, of course, is the rookie phenom QB for the Carolina Panthers, who broke Peyton Manning's yards passing record for rookie QBs. Easy answer to that one: Newton has all-pro players at all skill positions. WR Steve Smith is a pro bowler this season for the fifth time. He knows how to get open, and, um, can catch the ball. Jeremy Shockey has been to the pro bowl as a TE, and running back DeAngelo Williams was a pro bowler in 2009.
But even with that talent, Cam Newton led Carolina to just a 6-10 record. Newton beat just one team with a winning record -- Houston -- which was down to their third string QB at the time. What might Colt McCoy have done with talent like that surrounding him?
It's that image of a rookie phenom quarterback, setting records and thrilling the home crowd, that has Browns fans not wanting to wait for the water to boil. It's a microwave-mentality society now, and sports fans have ants in their pants. Those ants have fans itching for the Browns to draft Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, the Baylor University quarterback. But there's a history lesson there as well. Over the past 20 years, 13 college quarterbacks have won the Heisman. Only two of those 13 took their teams to the playoffs (Carson Palmer - Bengals, 2005 and Tim Tebow - Broncos, this season), and none ever went to the Super Bowl. Of the current NFL starting QBs, four of them (P. Manning, E. Manning, Drew Brees and Michael Vick) finished second or third in the Heisman race, and have led their NFL teams to the playoffs. The Manning brothers and Brees have won one Super Bowl each. Colt McCoy was the runner-up for the Heisman in 2008 and finished third in 2009.
History is on Colt McCoy's side. The only question, will Holmgren, Heckart and Browns fans be there as well?
Tom Misson is an Executive Producer for NewsChannel5. He also produces the Ford Sports Sunday at 11:35 p.m. on Sunday nights. Follow me on Twitter: @newsjedimaster