BEREA: ‘Who’s No. 1?’ is not the burning question as the Browns wrap up organized team activities this week and break until the start of training camp in late July.
First-round draft pick Brandon Weeden, the quarterback from Oklahoma State not lacking in arm strength or moxie, awaits only his official coronation.
The more pressing issue is ‘Who’s No. 2?’
Contrary to popular opinion — at least among local media — I believe that should be Colt McCoy, not Seneca Wallace.
Granted, my opinion of Wallace has virtually been set in stone since last season, when he showed no interest in mentoring McCoy. Wallace said Tuesday he didn’t want to give McCoy “an upper edge” when they were supposedly competing. Wallace insisted that when he was told the job was McCoy’s “I was there to help him out on whatever he needed.”
That might be true. But even if Wallace thought his talents were superior to McCoy’s, his attitude doesn’t fit my perception of a team player. In 2011, Wallace skipped down the Yellow Brick Road alongside Trent Dilfer, who dissed Charlie Frye in 2005 and wanted nothing to do with an heir apparent until Derek Anderson came along.
That aside, there is much to consider.
Breaking it down
Wallace is 31, McCoy 25.
Wallace has nine years experience in the West Coast offense, McCoy one.
Wallace’s base salary for 2012 is $2.4 million, McCoy’s $540,000.
Wallace carries a 6-15 record as a starter in nine NFL seasons; McCoy is 6-15 in two seasons. Wallace went 0-3 in 2011, McCoy 4-9.
Wallace has a stronger arm and is more mobile than McCoy. McCoy excels in shotgun and no-huddle situations.
Wallace has Browns president Mike Holmgren in his corner; McCoy has virtually no one. Browns coach Pat Shurmur seemed ready to cut McCoy minutes after Weeden was drafted.
Sizing up those factors, Wallace has the edge in experience, arm and mobility. McCoy is younger, cheaper and has more upside.
Wallace also had the guts Tuesday to state his case to be Weeden’s backup, while McCoy stuck to the standard non-answer of “I can only control what I can control.” He even trotted that one out when asked if he would consider asking for a trade or his release if he found himself third on the depth chart.
Shurmur said he could “see a scenario” in which Weeden, McCoy and Wallace were all on the roster. He could be talking about a situation in which the Browns are waiting for an injury so McCoy could be traded. No matter how long it might last, that wouldn’t set well with Wallace. He painted the picture that the locker room isn’t big enough for him and McCoy.
Asked if he could handle being third-string, Wallace said, “No, not really. We all know the third guy doesn’t dress Sundays. Obviously neither one of us wants to be that third guy.”
Wallace said “probably not” when asked if there is room for all three on the roster.
Wallace was thinking back to Tim Couch vs. Kelly Holcomb and Brady Quinn vs. Derek Anderson, competitions decided on coach Butch Davis’ gut feeling and coach Romeo Crennel’s coin flip.
Trade, cutting argument
Avoiding another such mess is the essential argument for trading or cutting McCoy as soon as possible. Some believe that if Weeden struggles, McCoy’s supporters will rally to his cause just as Tim Tebow’s did in Denver last season. Some think that McCoy, who had the ego to write a book called, Growing Up Colt, and his father Brad would stoke that fire.
That’s where I disagree.
If Shurmur makes it clear that this season will be all about Weeden (barring injury), the situation doesn’t have to be a Couch-Holcomb or Quinn-Anderson redux. If Shurmur shows none of the waffling he displayed during Peyton Hillis’ strep throat controversy, it doesn’t have to get out of control when Weeden throws two interceptions against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Relegated to No. 2, McCoy would virtually be left to learn and grow on his own and his father would be powerless to do anything about it. For the first time in his life, McCoy would not be the star of the show, just another guy in the locker room reducing to chatting about hunting and fishing and Texas games.
Some think he wouldn’t be able to cope, that he would need a fresh start in another city. I think it would be the best thing that ever happened to him. He might toughen up, lose any sense of entitlement and realize that his “It’s not all my fault” excuse won’t get him far in the NFL.
Asked what would be his reaction if he were No. 2 or No. 3 this season, McCoy said, “I have not gone there in my mind. When I come out to practice, in my mind I’m the starter.”
That’s an admirable approach to practice, a decent mind game when your snaps are few.
But can McCoy accept the reality of being No. 2 in 2012 and not rock the boat? Even though he shook some reporters’ hands Tuesday, seemingly saying goodbye, I might be one of the few who believes he can.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com. Read her blog at http://www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.