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Browns need some offensive weapons, not new quarterback

by | CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

Colt McCoy hasn't been able to energize Cleveland's lame offense, but who could? (US Presswire)  
Colt McCoy hasn't been able to energize Cleveland's lame offense, but who could? (US Presswire)  

After failing to swing a deal with St. Louis to acquire the right to draft Robert Griffin III, the Cleveland Browns are "moving forward," as head coach Pat Shurmur put it, with Colt McCoy as their quarterback.

Good for them. They should. But the Browns shouldn't stop there with commitments. They should "move forward" with someone to make McCoy look good, too.

I'm talking about finding offensive playmakers in this year's draft, and that shouldn't be difficult. The Browns have two first-round choices -- the fourth overall and the 22nd. If they know what's best for them, their fans and their starting quarterback, they'll draft legitimate threats to resuscitate the league's 29th-ranked offense and make McCoy and the team play better and win more.

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That, of course, means just saying, "No," to persons pushing quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the fourth overall pick. They want to flush McCoy, convinced that Tannehill is better and that McCoy can't play at this level, but I don't know how anyone comes to that conclusion.

Not yet, I don't.

Frustrated Browns' fans tell me McCoy is overmatched and has no future, and maybe they're right. But, based on what he has for running backs and receivers, how does anyone know? I mean, let's be honest: The people around him aren't very good.

Yeah, there was running back Peyton Hillis in 2010, but that's about it. Don't tell me about Josh Cribbs because he's a special-teams star who also happens to play wide receiver. I don't want to hear about Greg Little, either. The guy isn't a No. 1 receiver.

Ask people to name the best player on this offense, and they'll tell you it's Joe Thomas. And it is. But he's the left tackle. He's not someone catching passes or taking handoffs from the quarterback.

And that's a problem.

Maybe Colt McCoy isn't the answer, but the Browns never made an effort to find out. They surrounded him with ordinary players at wide receiver and running back and hoped he somehow could make them better. It didn't happen, and now fans want another quarterback.

I have another idea: Find better running backs and receivers first. And maybe you find a better quarterback while you're at it.

"At this point," Shurmur said at last week's NFL owners' meetings, "Colt is our quarterback. I've said it all along: We're looking forward to him getting better and being our guy."

He cautioned that there are no guarantees, and there shouldn't be. McCoy has as many interceptions in his career (20) as touchdowns, a 6-15 record and lukewarm support within the Browns' organization. All that could change, of course, if the Browns started to surround him with playmakers, and that's why they invented the draft, folks.

Look, I don't know what McCoy can't do, but I know what he can. I saw it when I watched him in successive games in 2010 vs. New England and the New York Jets. He and the Browns destroyed the Patriots one week -- one of only two New England losses that season -- then rallied to take the Jets into overtime, with McCoy driving the Browns 59 yards at the end of regulation to tie things up with a touchdown pass.

That Colt McCoy energized Cleveland. Last year's Colt McCoy sedated it. So now we're writing him off? C'mon. Before banishing the guy to the bench, how about giving him a chance to succeed? How about surrounding him with something more than average talent? At least then you have an accurate barometer.

I saw what happened when his most reliable receivers were Ben Watson and Evan Moore, and it was impressive. I also saw what he did in preseason last year under a first-year head coach, and that was promising, too. What wasn't was everything after that, with the Browns failing to produce more than 14 points in 10 of their last 13 regular-season starts and finishing behind only St. Louis in scoring.

McCoy ranked 27th among the league's quarterbacks and next to last in yards per attempt. His best rusher ranked 36th. The Browns had a league-low four touchdowns rushing. No receiver averaged more than 12.6 yards per reception, and their wideouts led the league in drops.

Oh, yeah, Cleveland also lost nine of its last 10.

Trust me, Ryan Tannehill isn't the solution. But Trent Richardson could be. Same goes for Justin Blackmon. Or Kendall Wright, Michael Floyd or Stephen Hill ... someone, anyone, who can make catches, make yards and make this offense into something other than a still life. Granted, McCoy isn't Tom Brady, but Tom Brady may be the only guy who could win with this supporting cast.

A year ago Cincinnati demonstrated how to run a draft when it gained its franchise quarterback and franchise wide receiver in the first two rounds. That was smart, with the move propelling the Bengals into the playoffs and setting them up for years.

The Browns are nowhere near the playoffs. In fact, they made them once since returning to the NFL, and that was back in 2002. McCoy may not be the quarterback to get them there, but nobody will know until he has weapons to work with -- and I'm waiting.

Colt McCoy is a quarterback with glimpses of promise and a multitude of unanswered questions. So let's answer them now. Do what's best for the Cleveland Browns and Colt McCoy, and don't just push forward with him; push forward with offensive playmakers to make him ... and the Cleveland Browns ... what they haven't been.



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