The Real McCoy: Colt Shines in His NFL Debut, Makes a Statement

Daymon JohnsonCorrespondent IOctober 18, 2010

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 17:  Colt McCoy #12 of the Cleveland Browns makes a pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on October 17, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Sunday came and went, with the same result that Browns fans have seen in five of the six weeks played to this point in the 2010 NFL season.

However, the feeling is clearly different this week, than it has been in previous weeks.

The feeling is called optimism.

After what Colt McCoy did in his NFL debut, against one of, if not the best defense in the NFL is nothing short of stellar, and it has Browns fans looking gleefully to the future.

Colt McCoy’s first performance is among one of the best rookie starts in the NFL in the last 30 years.

As a matter of fact, McCoy’s start on Sunday was better than the first starts of:  

  • Donovan McNabb: 19/36, 165 yards, one TD and two INTs in 1998
  • Drew Brees: 15/27, 221 yards, one TD and zero INTs in 2001
  • Eli Manning: 17/37, 162 yards, one TD and two INTs in 2004
  • Philip Rivers: 8/11, 108 yards, one TD and zero INTs in 2006
  • Matt Ryan: 9/13, 161 yards, one TD and zero INTs in 2008
  • Aaron Rodgers: 18/26, 201 yards, one TD and zero INTs in 2007


And even more staggering, is what he did compared to some of the true legends of the NFL game.

  • John Elway: 18/33, 193 yards, one TD and two INTs
  • Steve Young: 16/27, 167 yards, zero TDs and zero INTs
  • Joe Montana: 5/12,  36 yards, zero TDs and zero INTs
  • Tom Brady: 13/23, 168 yards, zero TDs and zero INTs


McCoy passed and/or ran more prolifically than several guys that are regarded as legends of the game and some that are the best in the NFL at this time.

So, what does all that mean? 

In my mind, it means that the Browns may have found the spark they need to finally start the fire.

Watching the game on Sunday, it was very clear that in the first half, McCoy was simply trying to find his way and settle into some kind of a rhythm.

Which is what any rookie QB facing that D would have done in the same situation.

The NFL game, compared to an elite-level college game is easily twice as fast and certainly more complex. Think astrophysics versus algebra.

Moving on, the fact that Colt McCoy came out in the second half and played in the collected, poised manner in which he did, all while facing the staggering blitzes and pressure Pittsburgh applied made his day even more impressive.

It was almost like watching a kid mature right before your eyes. Colt proved the naysayers wrong by his actions on the field and proved that he can be effective.  

Some have acted as if they’re surprised at what McCoy did, and while I am somewhat surprised at the success against the Steeler D, I would say that this type of play is what I thought would be seen from him.

In college, Colt McCoy was one of the most prolific passers ever throwing for 13,253 yards and 112 TDs with a career passer rating of 169.03 and a completion percentage of 70.15 percent. Not to mention, he’s the winningest QB in NCAA history.

That doesn’t happen by being bad in the pocket, having happy feet, having a bad arm, not being able to read a defense or extend the play and not giving it all you have got.

That happens by being a student of the game, which he is, and being able to implement what you learn. McCoy in Sunday’s game, looked night and day better than he did early in the preseason.

How? By implementing what he’s learning. That’s maturity, that’s hard work and that’s something that Cleveland hasn’t had in that position, from a young prospect in some time.

Also deserving some credit in this situation is the play-calling of oft-criticized offensive coordinator Brian Daboll who really called a very nice game and didn’t limit his playbook based on the rook’s inexperience.

It was refreshing to see him allow McCoy to step back, make reads and get the ball downfield, in the hands of his playmakers, which he did several times with some very nice throws. The TD was a particularly nice throw, as was the throw while bootlegging to the right when he hit Evan Moore for a nice 30-plus-yard gain.

It was clear that through the week Daboll obviously gained confidence in McCoy and what he could do, and allowed him to work within the system, not in spite of it.

At the end of the day, it’s too early to say that Colt McCoy is the next great NFL QB. 

However, it’s not too early to say that based on what we’ve all seen, that Colt McCoy can and will make the progression into an NFL-caliber QB, and maybe sooner than most thought.

This Sunday, the NFL and its fans get to see Colt McCoy in action again for the Cleveland Browns. 

Browns fans will hope for the best, and against the New Orleans D, it’s possible McCoy could flourish.

And, maybe at this point, all the Browns fan made weary by years and years of bad QB decisions, finally have something to place some hope in, and expect good things from.


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