Browns positional analysis: Quarterbacks

Posted Feb. 16, 2011 @ 10:55 a.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

This is the first in a series of position-by-position looks at the Browns' personnel entering the 2011 offseason. We begin with an analysis of Cleveland's QB situation.

Overview: The Browns wiped the slate clean at quarterback in 2010, trading Brady Quinn and releasing Derek Anderson. (Quinn was a backup for Denver, while Anderson struggled as a starter for Arizona this past season.) 

The Browns, with lead decision maker Mike Holmgren's influence very apparent, hatched a logical plan to restock the position. They signed Jake Delhomme to a two-year contract as a "bridge" quarterback to whomever would be the long-term starter. They traded for Seneca Wallace, a longtime backup in Seattle when Holmgren was head coach. Also, they exercised a third-round pick on Texas QB Colt McCoy in the 2010 draft.

Delhomme entered 2010 as the starter, with Wallace the top backup and McCoy penciled in for a redshirt year as the No. 3 quarterback. But when Delhomme suffered a high ankle sprain in the first half of the season opener at Tampa Bay, the Browns' plan changed out of necessity. Wallace took over for four games, then suffered a high ankle sprain of his own vs. Atlanta. Delhomme, still recovering, relieved Wallace and aggravated his injury. The Browns had but no choice to turn to McCoy, who proceeded to play the best of the Browns' quarterbacks ... before suffering a high ankle injury of his own.

Delhomme re-entered the lineup in Weeks 12-14, but he played poorly in a tough-to-take loss to Buffalo, and McCoy recaptured the starting job for the rest of the season. Though he struggled in losses to Baltimore and Pittsburgh to finish the season, he enters 2011 as the Browns' starting quarterback.

Here's a breakdown of each of the quarterbacks on the roster:

Colt McCoy: McCoy, who completed 135-of-222 passes for 1,576 yards with six TDs and nine interceptions as a rookie, has taken the starting job. The 6-1, 216-pound McCoy possesses a wonderful feel for the game, throws with accuracy and creates well on the move. He lacks top-end arm strength and must do a better job sensing the rush, however.

Jake Delhomme: Delhomme, who's slated to make $5.4 million in salary in 2011, figures to have to take a paycut to stay with Cleveland. He has been far too mistake-prone the last two seasons, throwing just 10 TDs and 25 interceptions in that span. If he returns, it will be as McCoy's backup.

Seneca Wallace: Wallace is an unrestricted free agent. Should he re-sign, Delhomme figures to be gone, as it seems unlikely that both veteran passers would be back. Wallace is familiar with the West Coast offense and played well at times a season ago.

WR-RS Joshua Cribbs: Cribbs has taken snaps out of the shotgun formation in the Browns' "Flash" package, which is their version of the "Wildcat." It is unclear whether the "Flash" will be used as much in new head coach Pat Shurmur's offense as it was in Brian Daboll's attack.

Bottom line: The experience McCoy gained should serve him well this season. The most pressing offseason questions at the position are 1) how he takes to Shurmur's offense and 2) who will be his top backup. It would not be a surprise if Holmgren, a collector of quarterbacks, drafts a young passer to be the No. 3 quarterback.