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Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Shurmur: McCoy is the starter 'at this point'

By Jamison Hensley

Browns coach Pat Shurmur told the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Tuesday that "we're moving forward" with Colt McCoy as the Browns starting quarterback.

"At this point, he's our quarterback," Shurmur said at the NFL owners meetings. "We're looking forward to him being our guy and I'm looking forward to seeing him improve. We believe he has a chance to be a fine player in this league."

Does Shurmur even need to qualify this with "at this point"? Just come out and say McCoy is the Browns' starting quarterback for 2012. It's clear that Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III was your first choice. Now that RG3 looks to be headed to the Redskins, make it clear that McCoy is your second choice.

But Shurmur's announcement does come with that asterisk because he hasn't ruled out drafting a quarterback that will come in and compete for the starting job. If you don't think veteran backup Seneca Wallace has a chance to beat out McCoy in a competition -- which is what Shurmur is saying with his statement today -- you shouldn't believe a college quarterback with only 19 starts (Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill) or a 28-year-old rookie (Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden) can beat out McCoy.

The Browns have repeatedly shown they lack confidence in McCoy. On Jan. 5, team president Mike Holmgren announced McCoy will face competition for the job this year, saying he was "not ready to anoint Colt yet." On March 15, Holmgren revealed to season-ticket holders that they were aggressive in trying to trade up in this year's draft for RG3, which sent the message that the Browns don't think McCoy is a franchise quarterback.

Browns officials have tried to smooth over the situation with McCoy. Holmgren revealed Monday that he phoned McCoy to reassure him of the organization's support.

“I just wanted to remind him there’s been a lot spoken and a lot written about our situation and other situations around the league, quite frankly,” Holmgren told the team's official website. “There’s a lot mentioned about the draft and potentially what we’re going to do. And all he can really control is what he does. All he can really do is become the best player he can be and try and block out all of the rest of the stuff."

Holmgren added, “And that’s easier said than done, because we’re all human. But that was my message to him.”

McCoy is a quarterback with limitations, especially arm strength. In his first full season as a starter, McCoy ranked 26th in completion percentage (57.2), 25th in passing yards per game (210.2), 32nd in yards per attempt (5.9), 25th in passer rating (74.6) and 25th in QBR (39.8).

While McCoy has given no indication that he can become a franchise quarterback, the only way the Browns can truly evaluate him is to put quality talent around him. In a perfect draft, the Cleveland's first three selections would be (in no order): running back, wide receiver and right tackle. And, unlike last season, McCoy will have a full offseason in Shumur's offense.

"I want to see him have an offseason," Shurmur said. "It takes awhile to really learn an offense. Now he's had a chance to look at all of the cut-ups and have a better understanding of it."

If McCoy fails to show improvement, there will be no more excuses or chances for him.