BEREA — Colt McCoy is the overwhelming choice of the fans and has earned endorsements from many teammates.
But coach Eric Mangini has the only vote that matters, and he’s not ready to cast it.
Mangini praised McCoy’s performance in the 34-14 win Sunday over the Patriots, but refused Monday to name him the starting quarterback for the foreseeable future – or even Sunday against the New York Jets.
Why not? The rookie just beat the Saints and Patriots back-to-back?
“I like discussions,” Mangini said. “I think it’s important to go through things and to hear different ideas and talk about the pluses and minuses. You’re just trying to get to the right decision and not a quick decision, and I just feel it’s worthwhile to be as thorough as possible when you make something that affects so many people in so many different ways.”
Even after the most impressive, and satisfying, win of his two years with the Browns, Mangini wouldn’t get caught up in the emotion and make the leap many fans are demanding — McCoy as the starter for the rest of the season. Mangini expects Seneca Wallace to practice Wednesday and said Jake Delhomme could return Thursday or Friday — both from high ankle sprains — and likes to keep the opponent in the dark as much as possible.
“He’s making the discussion harder and harder each week,” Mangini said of McCoy. “That’s a good situation to have, to have three guys that you feel like you can go into a game with and be successful.”
Mangini said the health of Wallace and Delhomme will play a role and he’ll meet with coordinator Brian Daboll and president Mike Holmgren before making a decision.
The logical conclusion is that McCoy will keep the job until he does something to lose it. He’s 2-1 as a starter with wins over Super Bowl MVPs Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Not only did he manage the game well again Sunday, he made plays with his arm and feet that were crucial to the victory — one of the top 10 of the expansion era.
Mangini’s hesitance could also be a show of respect for Wallace and Delhomme, who have claims to the starting job. Delhomme opened the season as the undisputed starter and leader, and Wallace filled in admirably for four games after Delhomme originally hurt the ankle in the opener.
But McCoy has largely made their efforts an afterthought. He has a chance to be the long-term answer at the game’s most important position and stepped right into the role without hesitation. He was a four-year starter at Texas and the NCAA’s winningest quarterback.
“Typically when a young guy becomes the starter, there’s almost a sense of pressure there,” Mangini said. “And with Colt, it felt like he was more at home there because that’s what he was used to.”
McCoy completed eight of his last nine passes Sunday, including all five in the second half, to go 14-for-19 for 174 yards and a 101.6 rating. He’s 46for-68 (67.6 percent) for 529 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions (both against Pittsburgh in his debut), six sacks, an 83.5 rating and a 16-yard touchdown scramble.
He hasn’t looked like a rookie.
“I think what everyone respects is he’s the leader,” left guard Eric Steinbach said. “He’s in there telling the offense what we have to do, what’s expected of us.
“At one point (Sunday) he was like, ‘OK, this is a big drive.’ It’s funny because the kid only has three games under his belt in the NFL, but he knew it at that point. He knows what he’s talking about.”
The Browns veterans have seen five starting quarterbacks in the last year and a half, so they know what to look for from the man directing the offense. McCoy has quickly earned their trust and has them welcoming the idea of him remaining the starter.
“He’s made a great case,” left tackle Joe Thomas said after the game. “To be able to beat the Super Bowl champs and one of the greatest teams in the last 10 years in the Patriots back-toback, it makes a great case for himself.
“It’s not just winning. He didn’t miss many throws and he got us in the right play. You can’t ask anything more of a quarterback.”
“He’s a winner,” said receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, who led the team with four catches for 58 yards.
“He’s embracing the role and has done a good job leading the team.
“He’s cool, calm and collected. He’s playing with a lot of great poise.”
Mangini has been happiest with McCoy’s ability to handle an expanded game plan each week. Against the Patriots, the coaches gave McCoy the option to audible or pick between plays at the line on numerous occasions.
“Colt made some really good decisions,” Mangini said.
McCoy made another one Sunday when asked about remaining the starter.
“I don’t know what’s gonna happen,” he said. “I will continue to prepare as the starter. I will work my tail off like I always do and be ready to go.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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