Mike Holmgren, beginning his third season as team president, sounds committed to keeping Colt McCoy as the Browns starting quarterback for 2012 after failing to wrest the second pick in the draft from the Rams to use on Robert Griffin III.
Holmgren said the Browns offer to the Rams "was every bit the offer" the Rams accepted from the Redskins. The Redskins traded three first-round picks plus a second round pick to be used on Griffin.
The Browns president said reports the Browns also offered three first-round picks and a second round pick were incorrect, but he refused to be specific about what the Browns did offer.
"We were very, very aggressive and it didn't work," Holmgren told season ticket holders in a conference call. "The other plan we talked about was to use those draft picks to make our football team better immediately; to help our quarterbacks on the team, or anybody else who would come on the team, be better because we've surrounded the position with better players."
The Browns pick fourth and 22nd in the first round and fifth in the second round - pick 37 overall. They are guaranteed of the opportunity to draft either running back Trent Richardson or wide receiver Justin Blackmon if they hold onto the fourth pick as long as Andrew Luck goes first to the Colts and Griffin second to the Redskins as expected.
The Browns were 4-12 last year. McCoy, a third-round draft choice in 2010, was 4-9 as a starter before missing the last three games recovering from a concussion sustained in Pittsburgh. McCoy was 2-6 as a rookie starter.
Only two teams scored fewer than the 218 points the Browns scored in 2011. The total was the second-lowest in the 13 seasons since the Browns returned in 1999.
One caller skeptical of the West Coast offense was told it takes time to learn. It is a point Holmgren has made many times.
"I grew up in the West Coast offense," Holmgren told her. "We will stick with our system. The big thing is learning the system. I think in the second year of the system you will see more productivity from the offense.
"We're not going to change it, but it takes times to get good at it. If you can stick with your quarterback and you stick with the system and you stick with the coaches in the program, it works. You just have to trust me on that."
Holmgren said McCoy was stunted in his development last year because there was no offseason program in a year where a new offense was installed and there was no offensive coordinator. Brad Childress was named offensive coordinator last month.
"Now we don't have those things to deal with," Holmgren said. "We don't have any more excuses, either. But those are real things that happened."
General manager Tom Heckert said McCoy has "a big ceiling." The remark is consistent with what he said before the 2012 league year began March 13.
"We do think Colt has a big ceiling," Heckert told the season ticket holders. "It's my job to get better players surrounding him. After the season we said we have to protect him better. We have to be able to run the football, which we did at times last year. If you look a t the games when we ran well and protected well, Colt played very well.
"Colt has proven he can play in this league. As coach Holmgren said, another year in the system and we get him better players, he has a chance to be really good."
So far the Browns have not signed an offensive player in free agency this year.
With all the support, Holmgren said he is not ready to "anoint" McCoy. The Browns could still use the fourth pick on Ryan Tannehill from Texas A&M or the 22nd pick on Brandon Weeden from Oklahoma State.
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