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NFL: Will Josh McCown Thrive Under Pressure or Fold?

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CLEVELAND- Most starting quarterbacks failed in their starting role since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999.

Names like Tim Couch, Ty Detmer, Jeff Garcia, Brady Quinn, and Colt McCoy are among the quarterbacks who struggled.

After more than 20 failed quarterbacks, the Browns found an answer to their prayers as former third string quarterback Brian Hoyer achieved a rare feat, ending up with a winning record as Browns quarterback.

During the 7-9 season which seemed more like a major victory, Brian Hoyer struggled against the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars, leading to doubts regarding his ability to deliver the Browns to consistent wins.

In spite of his ability to carry the Browns to wins, albeit not always convincing, Hoyer remains a free agent and there is clearly no intention of re-signing him.

Although Hoyer is labeled as a journeyman, his success speaks loudly for him. He may not have the great statistics of his mentor Tom Brad, but he shattered expectations of a career journeyman.

The Browns are turning to 35-year-old quarterback Josh McCown who is 17-32 as a starter. Older quarterbacks such as Garcia, Jake Delhomme, Trent Dilfer and Brandon Weeden experienced struggles in Cleveland.

Is this a case of the front office asking the fans to blindly trust them that McCown is going to  deliver the Browns to the promised land of the playoffs?

Is McCown a guaranteed fail or is there a decent chance for success?

McCown has better physical tools than Hoyer but he struggled in Tampa Bay despite throwing to Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. Browns fans should be concerned about that. On the bright side, McCown will be adequately protected in Cleveland which was not the case in Tampa Bay.

Will a better offensive line be a huge difference for McCown? In all fairness, every quarterback needs adequate protection. The Browns offensive line has pro-bowl lineman left tackle Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack. Mitchell Schwartz is very good and can develop into an elite offensive lineman. Joel Bitonio is a very aggressive blocker.

Although McCown doesn’t have Jackson to throw to, Andrew Hawkins (824 receiving yards, two touchdowns) and Travis Benjamin have the ability to outrun tacklers and make big plays. Taylor Gabriel was a bright spot many times with 621receiving yards and one touchdown.

It’s important to remember the signing of Cecil Shorts is imminent. Ted Ginn may take the Browns over the Panthers. Brian Hartline may draw interest from the Browns. There are three potential easy signings for the Browns. McCown needs more playmakers. If the Browns pull this off, McCown may actually turn heads but it will take a lot of work and sleepless nights on part of the front office.



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