Friday, October 7, 2011

What's almost a rookie?

So Pat Shurmur considers his quarterback “almost a rookie.”

That’s right, the Browns head coach says Colt McCoy is “a young player and in my mind almost a rookie. And so his improvement can be great from practice to practice and game to game. I think (he can improve) a lot.”

Yep, that’s what he told reporters recently even though McCoy played the last half of the 2010 season and performed reasonably well.

Surprisingly, McCoy has bought into the almost-a-rookie label. “Right, exactly, and that’s how it is,” he told reporters. “You look across the receiver room, nobody has been in the west coast (offense) in that room. You look at the tight ends and nobody has been in the west coast except Alex Smith. In a sense, we’re all learning – with a rookie quarterback. We’ve got a lot of room for improvement.”

Sounds like a copout; an excuse for a slow start by the offense.

Is it the new offense that’s holding the offense back? Or is it the serious lack of talent in the receiving department? Or the strange play calling by the offensive coordinator? Perhaps it’s the inability of the offensive line to protect its quarterback and open holes for the running game.

One thing is certain: The problem does not lie with the quarterback..

If receivers can’t get open, if the offensive line can’t hold the opposition for more than 3.5 seconds in pass protection, if that same line has trouble opening holes in the ground game, how is that the fault of the quarterback?

McCoy, as supremely confident as he is, is not a miracle worker. But he knows how to cool the flames.

“We’re playing together for the first time,” he said. “We practice hard. I believe in the guys. I know the receivers and running backs and linemen believe in me and the line’s doing a nice job.”

All the right words. He was doing fine until he got to the mention of the line. He fanned on that one. It is not doing a nice job.

In 16 quarters this season, McCoy has been sacked seven times and hit on 23 other occasions. The latter number is worrisome because of his size.

That number must get lower and in a hurry or Seneca Wallace will see action sooner than expected this season. The best way to do that is cutting down on the number of times McCoy drops back to pass.

So far this season, he has attempted 172 passes. That’s 43 a game, a pace that will see him throw 688 by the time the season ends. That’s if he makes it that far.

But that won’t be a record. Drew Bledsoe launched a record 691 passes for the New England Patriots in 1994. The record for most passes by a rookie quarterback is owned by Sam Bradford last season with the St. Louis Rams.

And his offensive coordinator with that team? That’s correct. Pat Shurmur, the almost-a-rookie head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

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