During a flurry of interviews leading up to the Super Bowl in early February, Colt McCoy said the Browns' brass told him he will enter training camp as the team's starting quarterback. Since then, President Mike Holmgren, General Manager Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur have expressed their commitment to McCoy and their faith in his abilities.
So that's why some comments Holmgren made earlier this week at the NFL Spring Meeting in Indianapolis generated a headline -- "Holmgren: Browns QB competition is open, with McCoy in mix" -- on NFL.com. Here's how Holmgren, pictured right watching McCoy, broke down the Browns' quarterback situation in a conversation with NFL Network's Albert Breer:
"We have Seneca Wallace, too, and Jake Delhomme as well right now," Holmgren said. "But (McCoy) got his feet wet last year. I didn't necessarily want him to play that much last year, but we were injured, and so he had a chance to play. He showed us enough where he will go in, and we're hopeful that -- it'll be competitive -- but if he does what I think he can do, he'll probably be the guy, yeah."
In other words, Holmgren hasn't guaranteed anything, but he considers McCoy the favorite to start. Holmgren also told Breer he's pleased that McCoy has organized workouts with some of his teammates during the league's lockout.
"I've always been impressed with Colt and his leadership ability -- that's one of the reasons we drafted him," Holmgren said. "So I'm not surprised by this. They love to play the game, so he's going to do what he has to now as he gets his chance to be the starting quarterback and the leader of the football team.
"He's going to do what he has to do, what he thinks is best, in this time we're going through right now. I'm not surprised by it. And yeah, it puts a little smile on my face."
Holmgren's most recent public comments about McCoy's status with the Browns aren't much different than others he made earlier this month. In a radio interview with KJR (950-AM) in Seattle, Holmgren said McCoy would get a chance to be the Browns' starting quarterback and suggested McCoy would receive the majority of the reps during practices. Still, he never said McCoy would simply be handed the job.
"He’s going to get a chance to do it," Holmgren said. "I’m not speaking out of school here. I’m not a big fan of all of a sudden the equal reps and all that. That usually confuses a lot of people. Things could change once we get rolling a little bit. I suspect that Colt will do a good job. I’ve talked to Seneca (Wallace) about this before the lockout took place. My experience over the years, the guys just want to know and don’t give them curveballs. Are they competitive? Yes. Does it bother them? I’m sure it does. But for right now, this is probably how we’re going to go."
So here's the bottom line: Browns fans shouldn't be too alarmed by anything Holmgren told Breer. As Holmgren has promised before, Shurmur will ultimately decide McCoy's place on the depth chart anyway. And on separate occasions, Shurmur said the following: "I'm extremely excited about working with Colt and him being our guy," and McCoy is "a guy that I think can be the guy to lead our organization."
Quarterbacks don't lead organizations by sitting on the bench. Therefore, it's probably safe to say that the league's labor dispute has a much greater chance of preventing McCoy from starting in 2011 than any other quarterback on the Browns' roster. After all, if games aren't played, no one can start.