Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's a no-brainer

Colt McCoy has pronounced himself ready to resume his duties as quarterback of the Browns. His high ankle sprain is healed and he is champing at the bit to get back in there.

Ready, set, go.

Hold on there, buckaroo, says Eric Mangini. Not so fast.

So what is Mangini waiting for? What now?

"I'm going to see where we're at on Wednesday and kind of go from there," he told the media Monday. "He was able to get to where he could function as the third [quarterback in the Buffalo loss Sunday], so we've got to see where that is and think about it and we'll go from there."

We know Mangini is a football coach, not a doctor. But if McCoy was healthy enough to be the third quarterback against the Bills, it meant he was available in the event Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace went down. In other words, he's ready.

McCoy says so. So why doesn't Mangini? Is he back to his old tricks of playing coy? Here we go again.

It would appear as though he wants the Cincinnati Bengals to wonder just who will be under center when the two AFC North rivals meet Sunday in Cincinnati. Like it makes a huge difference.

Here we are 13 games into the National Football League season and the Cleveland coach is still playing head games with opponents. And this particular opponent has won a measly two games this season.

Stop it already. The season is shot. Once again, the Browns will be spectators at playoff time. So why mess with the minds on a two-victory team? They couldn't care less who you start.

The bigger dilemma will be to try and solve the problems with the Browns' offense. Asked what those problems were, Mangini gave a disturbing answer. "I don't know," he said. "I don't have too much to say about it."

What??!! For someone who verbally tap dances deftly around the most difficult questions, that is a remarkable answer. "I don't know" is not the kind of answer I would expect from Mangini.

Has the man given up? Is he just as frustrated as the fans at the impotence of his team's offense?

Perhaps he has come to the realization his future in Cleveland hangs in the balance in the final three games of the season. And maybe his career as a head coach in the NFL as well.

McCoy was the starting quarterback by default when the Browns went through the toughest part of their schedule midway through the season. It was during that period that they looked like a contending team, hanging with four (and beating two) of the toughest teams in the league.

It was the Browns' performance in those games that gave rise to the hope that maybe, just maybe, the club was approaching that corner fans have been dreaming about for years. You know the one. The one that, when turned, leads to bigger and better things.

Since McCoy's departure with the high ankle sprain, the Browns have not played well on offense. They have won two of the last three games due mainly to an unusual streak of good luck. They could just as easily have a five-game losing streak entering Sunday.

So drop the pretenses, coach. Name McCoy the starter. What he gives you is something your other two quarterbacks can't. For some reason, the team seems to play better when he's under center.

Besides, it's entirely possible he just might be able to save your job if he helps you win two of the next three games.

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