On the surface, Browns coach Eric Mangini's reluctance to name rookie Colt McCoy the starting quarterback -- whether for Sunday's home game against the New York Jets or for the rest of the season -- may seem troubling. After all, McCoy is 2-1 as a starter and has beaten the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots, who came in with the best record in the NFL, in back to back weeks.
But with Mangini facing the team that fired him this weekend, it would have been more shocking if he had abandoned his tendency to protect competitive advantage at all costs.
No one expects Mangini to disrupt momentum and go back to Seneca Wallace, who is ahead of Jake Delhomme in his recovery from a high ankle sprain. Browns players seem inspired by playing for McCoy. McCoy's leadership skills seem far superior to Wallace. Former Browns center LeCharles Bentley said on ESPN 850 WKNR radio last week that Wallace's and Delhomme's ankles should be 100 percent recovered ''by about April.''
And let's not forget that Mangini's job may still be on the line.
So when Mangini said of McCoy Monday, ''He’s making the discussion harder and harder each week,'' he was toying with the Jets. He added that he would discuss the situation with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and president Mike Holmgren, but it's a stretch to think they would do anything but rubber-stamp sticking with McCoy.
Against New Orleans, McCoy was just a game manager. But against the Patriots, McCoy made several plays that helped secure the victory. His throwing on the run was remarkable for a player whose arm strength had been questioned.
So let Mangini play games with the Jets this week all he wants. Unless McCoy has an unforseen meltdown, his fans should have nothing to fear.