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CBSSports.com National Columnist

Browns' future -- and present -- should be in McCoy's hands

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PITTSBURGH -- I've seen Sage Rosenfels. I've seen Ryan Fitzpatrick. Matt Leinart and Tyler Thigpen and Brian Brohm? Oh my. Yes. I've seen 'em all, which makes me a connoisseur of bad quarterbacks. I know what they look like.

And they don't look like Colt McCoy.

Colt McCoy gives it his best but doesn't get much help against Ben Roethlisberger's Steelers. (AP)  
Colt McCoy gives it his best but doesn't get much help against Ben Roethlisberger's Steelers. (AP)  
Don't get crazy on me. I'm not saying Colt McCoy is, or even will be, a good NFL quarterback. But I am telling you he's not a bad one. Not even in his NFL debut, which was on the road in an AFC North rivalry game against one of the most vicious defenses in football. Not even Sunday against the Steelers, in a 28-10 Cleveland loss, was Colt McCoy a bad quarterback.

So ... you know what? The heck with it. I am saying Colt McCoy will be a good quarterback. Down the road he'll be even better than he was Sunday, and on Sunday he completed 23 of 33 passes for 281 yards and a touchdown. And he did this in the wind at Pittsburgh. And he did this with a receiving corps led by Chansi Stuckey and Brian Robiskie. They were decent college receivers, but that's it -- decent college receivers. Stuckey and Robiskie weren't great in college, which means they're not even very good in the NFL, but they're all Cleveland has. And McCoy used them, along with a healthy serving of tight end Benjamin Watson, to compile a solid passer rating of 80.5 against the top scoring defense in the NFL.

"At no point during the week did I think that this was too big for him, and at no point during the game [today] did I feel that way, either," said Browns coach Eric Mangini. "That is about as hard as it gets, with this type of defense with the various looks they have. It's tough, and I thought he did well."

Yes he did. McCoy did really well. Not Hall of Fame well. Not Pro Bowl well. But starter-quality well? Absolutely. Asked to identify his starting quarterback going forward, Mangini declined to endorse McCoy as the starter.

"We really have to evaluate it," Mangini said, showing the decisiveness and intelligence that got him fired by the Jets in 2008 and will get him fired by the Browns after this season.

McCoy isn't just the Browns' quarterback of the future. He's their quarterback right now, the best one they've got -- the only one they've got. Seneca Wallace can scramble and manage a game. Jake Delhomme can do neither.

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Colt McCoy can make plays. He didn't make enough to beat the Steelers on Sunday, but if that was going to be the bar, he shouldn't have bothered to show up. Because Cleveland was never going to beat Pittsburgh on Sunday. Not on the road. Not with Ben Roethlisberger back. Not going to happen.

McCoy gave it a go, though. He routinely evaded pressure and got yardage out of it, showing the quick feet and throwing accuracy that made him a college star at Texas. He was intercepted twice, both on tipped balls thrown into heavy coverage, but McCoy can't sit around and wait for his receivers to get wide open. Again, he's throwing to Chansi Stuckey and Brian Robiskie. They're not going to get wide open.

Even so, McCoy threw for more yards than either Wallace or Delhomme managed in any of the Browns' first five games. He ran for more yards (22) than either Wallace or Delhomme have run for in all of the Browns' first five games, combined.

And he did it in his NFL debut. On the road. At Pittsburgh.

Good quarterback? Yeah, he's going to be a good quarterback. And I think he knows it. Someone asked McCoy if he's ready to be the guy in Cleveland, and he said this:

"I'm ready to do what this team needs," he said. "We'll move on week to week and evaluate Jake and Seneca, but yeah -- I feel really good."


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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