I’m Just Saying: How bad could Matt Leinart have really been?

Arizona Cardinals starting quarterback Derek Anderson leaves the field after the Cards game with the St. Louis Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ December 5,2010. Anderson was replaced in the second half as the Rams defeated the Cards 19-6. UPI/Art Foxall Photo via Newscom

I’m starting a new column and I’m calling it “I’m Just Saying.” Peter King has a column (Monday Morning Quarterback), so it only makes sense that a well-respected sports blogger like myself has a column as well.

What? I’m not well-respected? Who the hell is Anthony Stalter? Peter King is more established?

What-ev.

– Let’s hold off on the Giants-look-like-Super-Bowl-contenders-again talk after they beat a crap Redskins team. After their effort against the Eagles and Giants over the past few weeks, I’m fully convinced that Oregon could beat the Redskins on a neutral field.

– Hey Josh Freeman, I’d stay away from Brent Grimes the next time Atlanta comes to down. Dude is small but he’s often the most athletic player on the field.

– Lion fans are pissed about the unnecessary roughness penalty on Ndamukong Suh for the forearm shiver that he delivered to Jay Cutler’s back, but riddle me this, Batman: Was the play avoidable? Could Suh have chosen not to go GSP on Cutler and still gotten him down? What I’m asking is: Was it necessary roughness?

– I’m pretty sure I could think of two reasons not to start Brett Favre for every one reason that Leslie Fraizer comes up with. Let’s start with these: His touchdown to interception ratio this year is 10:17 and even after his effort on Sunday, one could make an argument that Ryan Fitzpatrick is better at this point in his career. That’s right – Ryan Fitzpatrick. So why not Tarvaris Jackson, Leslie?

– Is there any reason Marion Barber should get carries for the Cowboys with how good Felix Jones and Tashard Choice looked against the Colts? Sorry, is there any good reason I mean to write.

– You’re lucky the Colts wound up scoring anyway, Eric Foster.

– Hey Peyton: blue shirts, white helmets, my man.

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Browns should stick with McCoy as their starter

NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 24: Colt McCoy  of the Cleveland Browns stands in the huddle during the game against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on October 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Browns defeated the Saints 30-17. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

I’ve always been of the mindset that when it comes to NFL teams, their present should reflect their future.

That’s why Colt McCoy should remain the starter for the Browns. He’s supposed to be their future, so in the midst of another losing season why not make him their present too?

McCoy has a long way to go before he can lead the Browns to the Super Bowl, the playoffs, or even to a winning season. But Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme (especially Delhomme) aren’t the long-term answers the Browns need at quarterback. When healthy, Wallace may give Cleveland its best chance of winning right now but if the franchise isn’t moving forward, there’s no sense in moving laterally either (which is what they would be doing if Wallace was their starter).

I wouldn’t be saying this if I didn’t think McCoy could handle the pressure. If he looked like Jimmy Clausen did in his first couple of starts, then the tone of this article would be entirely different. But in two starts this season, McCoy has completed 32 of his 49 pass attempts for 355 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He didn’t set the world on fire with his 9-for-16 performance against the Saints two weeks ago, but he didn’t need to either. The Browns won because they didn’t make any mistakes and the defense kept forcing turnovers. Granted, he’s working with a scaled down version of the offense, but all young quarterbacks (whether they’re the No. 5 overall pick or the No. 85 overall pick) have to start somewhere.

Again, this is about the future and the future is Colt McCoy. The best way to learn and grow in the NFL is to play and McCoy has more than held his own against the likes of the Steelers and Saints on the road. He’ll receive another big test this Sunday against the Patriots, but he’ll be fine.

And if he’s not, then at the very least he’ll be taking his lumps with the guys that’ll be staring back at him in the huddle for years to come.

Colt McCoy likely to start again this week

Aug. 02, 2010 - Berea, Ohio, United States of America - 02 August 2010: Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy.

For a rookie quarterback making his first ever start in the NFL, playing a hot Steelers team in Pittsburgh isn’t exactly a dream scenario. But for all intents and purposes, Browns’ rookie Colt McCoy held his own last Sunday.

Unless Seneca Wallace (ankle) or Jake Delhomme (ankle) make significant progress over the next few days, McCoy will start against the Saints this weekend in New Orleans. While the Saints aren’t the Steelers, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ game plans are usually aggressive – especially when he smells blood in the water (i.e. a rookie QB making only his second career start). So McCoy better be up for the task again this Sunday.

That said, if he plays as well as he did last week against the Steelers, McCoy should be fine. He made a couple of rookie mistakes, which was to be expected, but for the most part it was an impressive debut. He completed 23-of-33 passes for 281 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions – one of which wasn’t his fault (Ben Watson should have caught the pass). What was more impressive than the numbers was the way he took command of the huddle, displayed accuracy on his throws and was poised in the pocket. He wasn’t overmatched in the slightest.

Even if Wallace and Delhomme were healthy, the Browns have nothing to lose by starting McCoy again. Wallace arguably gives Cleveland its best chance of winning because he’s mobile and he’s been around the game for a long time, but there’s no reason to play Delhomme over McCoy. Delhomme isn’t part of the Browns’ long-term future, nor should he be. McCoy, on the other hand, could be Cleveland’s starter for years to come.

Even if McCoy struggles this week, as long as he shows signs of progressing there’s an argument to be made that he should continue to start – even over Wallace.

Not bad, Colt McCoy. Not bad at all.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy runs five yards with Pittsburgh Steelers Troy Polamalu in pursuit second quarter touchdown against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October17, 2010.  UPI/Archie Carpenter Photo via Newscom

The Browns couldn’t have asked for much more out of rookie Colt McCoy, who made his NFL debut in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

The rookie made his first professional start against one of the nastiest defenses in the NFL and in hostile environment, no less. But he completed 23-of-33 passes for 281 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, one of which was Ben Watson’s fault. (The tight end should have made the catch.)

The most impressive thing about McCoy was how he wasn’t afraid to attack the Steelers’ secondary, which is definitely Pittsburgh’s biggest weakness. He was poised in the pocket, displayed a ton of confidence and didn’t appear to be overwhelmed. Cleveland still lost 28-10 but considering the Browns couldn’t run the ball, couldn’t stop the run and couldn’t pressure Ben Roethlisberger defensively, they should be proud of the way their rookie signal caller hung in there for four quarters.

When healthy, Seneca Wallace should start in Cleveland. He gives the Browns their best chance of winning and if he’s 100% next week after suffering a high ankle sprain last Sunday, he should play going forward.

But if he’s not healthy or if the Browns already consider this a lost year (and nobody would blame them if they do), then there’s no reason McCoy shouldn’t receive more playing time – especially over Jake Delhomme, who has shown nothing in two years.

Delhomme is done and he’s not a part of Cleveland’s future. The same can’t be said about McCoy. I’m certainly not suggesting that the Browns start the McCoy era after one performance, but there’s no excuse for Delhomme to be listed ahead of him on the depth chart moving forward.

You’re starting, Colt McCoy! Really?! Against who?! Pittsburgh. Ah, crap.

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Rookie quarterback Colt McCoy  of the Cleveland Browns warms up just prior to the start of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 12, 2010 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Nothing has been confirmed yet, but Browns head coach Eric Mangini said Monday that rookie Colt McCoy might make his pro debut on Sunday because Seneca Wallace has a high ankle sprain and Jake Delhomme is still dealing with an ankle injury himself. (Not to mention he’s also Jake Delhomme, which will always continue to hold him back.)

That’s the good news for McCoy. The bad news is that the Browns’ opponent this Sunday is a well-rested Pittsburgh team that will no doubt be fired up with the return of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

The Steelers have the second ranked defense in the league in terms of yards allowed with 1,156 (Miami has given up the fewest yards at 829). They also have the best run defense in the NFL, which is a problem considering the Browns like to pound the ball on the ground. So if the hope was to feed the ball to Peyton Hillis (who is banged up himself) and Jerome Harrison (whom Mangini apparently never wants to see get another carry the rest of the year) in order to take the pressure off young Colt’s hands, that may backfire.

The Browns are hoping that they can start Wallace this week, but high ankle sprains can be tricky. Andre Johnson of the Texans just had one and despite his best efforts, he had to miss Houston’s game against Oakland two weeks ago.

It’ll be interesting to see whether or not McCoy is thrust into action this week against arguably the best defense in the league.

Update: According to Chip Brown via his Twitter page, McCoy has been told he will start this Sunday at Pittsburgh. Hold onto your nuts…

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