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Friday, January 7, 2011
Browns' next hire needs to develop McCoy

By James Walker

As Browns president Mike Holmgren continues his search to find Cleveland's next head coach, one of the most important criterion should be the ability to work with and develop young quarterbacks.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy
It's important for the Browns to find a new head coach who can help develop young quarterback Colt McCoy.
Holmgren has what he believes is his quarterback of the future in rookie Colt McCoy. Therefore, if "The Big Show" himself doesn't want to coach McCoy to help the quarterback reach his potential, Holmgren needs to find someone who will.

St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is in Cleveland Friday for an interview. He did an impressive job with fellow rookie quarterback Sam Bradford this season. Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, who coaches Matt Ryan, also is expected to visit Cleveland in the next few days.

Although neither coach is a favorite for the job, I think Holmgren's thought process is on the right track. Holmgren should have McCoy's development in mind when he makes his final decision.

Former Browns coach Eric Mangini was terribly overmatched in that area. He came to Cleveland with a defensive pedigree and never showed a track record of bringing along young quarterbacks in his previous stint with the New York Jets. Mangini's hire of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll also was a disaster, as neither coach knew how to effectively run an offense or make the necessary in-game adjustments.

The primary reason Cleveland hasn't been able to turn the organization around is due to the team's inability to find and develop a quality quarterback. Some Browns fans believe Tim Couch had potential. But the former No. 1 overall pick joined an expansion team. Couch also suffered from poor coaching, had very little talent around him and was battered and injured to the point that he lost confidence and never got on track.

The only time Cleveland had double-digit victories since returning to the NFL a dozen years ago was in 2007. That was the year former Browns quarterback Derek Anderson caught lightning in a bottle and went to the Pro Bowl. He's never been the same since and neither have the Browns, who finished 4-12, 5-11 and 5-11 the past three seasons.

Cleveland has no chance of consistently competing in the AFC North until the organization develops a franchise quarterback to match Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger, Baltimore's Joe Flacco and Cincinnati's Carson Palmer. Until then, the Browns will enter every season at a major disadvantage within the division.

Is McCoy the answer? It's too early to say, but he did show promise as a rookie.

It will be up to Holmgren's next hire to build on that promise and bring out the best in McCoy next season in ways Mangini and Daboll could not.