Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 10/14/11

 

Colt McCoy

The Cleveland Browns face a tough task this week in trying to stop Darren McFadden and the speedy Raiders offense, but they might face an even tougher task in trying to stop a team playing in memory of their longtime owner. This Sunday the Raiders will play at home in front of their fans for the first time since the death of their longtime owner, Al Davis.  At a young age I learned never to bet against a team playing with a heavy heart, and that’s exactly what the Raiders and their fans will be playing with on Sunday, a heavy heart. Regardless of how good or bad the Raiders have been, Oakland and their fans have always made it tough  for opposing teams when they visit.  But given the Raiders recent surge back into NFL respectability and the “this game is for Al” atmosphere that will resonate throughout the stadium, the Browns might be in over their heads for this game.

Coming off their bye week, the Cleveland Browns find themselves off of the NFL grid of relevancy.  Sitting at 2-2, the Browns aren’t worthy of surprise team status, they surely aren’t regarded as a Super Bowl contender, they’re a little too good for Andrew Luck contention, and they aren’t the Eagles or Cowboys.  So what, exactly, should people make of this team?  At the quarter point, they go into Oakland sporting their best record since 2007.  You would think that stat might make them buzz worthy; however, being that the combined record of the opponents they have beaten (Indianapolis and Miami) is 0-9, the Browns look to be the official definition of NFL mediocrity.  A win in Oakland, though, would immediately scrap them of that label.

For Peyton Hillis, Sunday cannot come soon enough.  The Browns recent bye week couldn’t have come at a worse time for Hillis.  Over the past two weeks, he’s found himself entangled in a web of rumors and speculations regarding his bout with strep throat a few weeks ago.  Even worse, people have already dubbed him a victim of the Madden Curse.  Needless to say, this is a big game for Hillis, especially when you consider he will be playing against the guy who stole his carries at Arkansas, Darren McFadden. But despite everything Hillis’ has on his plate, this game is even bigger for quarterback Colt McCoy.

A lot of Browns fans still have faith that Colt McCoy can be the guy for this team.  But just as was the case with Peyton Hillis, the bye week did more to hurt McCoy, than it did to help.

That’s because bye weeks give fans time to think, time to consider, time to question, time to listen to talking heads, and time to read every article, forum post, column, and blog published in the local area. Having said that, the Colt McCoy bandwagon recently became a little less crowded.

Against Tennessee it took McCoy a franchise record 61 attempts to join the 300 yard club and even then, the Browns still lost 31-13.  Yes the Titans are a better team than most people thought, but that doesn’t erase the fact that, through four games, McCoy ranks 30th among quarterbacks in yards per completion, 30th in number of completions over 20 yards, and 26th in completions over 40 yards. The questioning of McCoy begins and ends with his arm strength and size.  In a league that has become more pass driven than ever before, dumping the ball off to running backs, hitting receivers across the middle on short slant routes, and throwing it seven yards up field to a tight end (as McCoy has made a habit of), will not cut it in this league.

Regardless of how bad the Browns receivers are, McCoy needs to start stretching the field both vertically and horizontally, and he has to show that he can do it while standing in the pocket. Unfortunately, that’s where the double bind is for the second year quarterback; he doesn’t have the size to stand in the pocket and he doesn’t have the arm to stretch the field, and he knows it too, that’s why he rarely ever tries.

So far, McCoy has done just enough to get by.  (Like I said, the Browns are off to their best start in four years and he should get some credit for that.)  He doesn’t throw many interceptions, he extends plays, he’s good at throwing on the run, he manages the game well, and he has enough poise to manufacture a game winning, fourth quarter drive, as he showed against Miami.  McCoy is a viable quarterback, but “viable” is no longer good enough to consistently win in this league

With Peyton Hillis back as the full time running back this week, McCoy should fair well against the Raiders defense.  Oakland is 29th in the league, allowing 300 yards per game through the air, but don’t expect McCoy to exploit the the Raiders pass defense the way Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Brady did.  With pro bowl center Alex Mack’s status being up in the air, Oakland’s front seven could cause a lot of problems.  They rank near the top of the league in balls batted down at the line of scrimmage and they have gotten to the opponents quarterback 14 times–good for sixth best in the league.  Because McCoy is prone to getting his throws batted down, expect to see McCoy throwing on the run quite a bit, and expect Coach Shurmur to call a heavy dose of runs.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Browns may be playing without their best cornerback Joe Haden.  Without Haden, the Browns don’t have anyone to match up with the speed of wide receiver Darius Heyward-Bay.

The focal point of the Browns defense, though, will be geared towards stopping Darren McFadden.  The Browns rank 25th in stopping the run, but with Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin taking up space in the middle, they have done a decent job of limiting their opponents to big plays, thus far.  The Browns are without DE Marcus Benard for the year, and with an already thin defensive line, he will surely be missed, especially this Sunday.

For the Browns, limiting the number of Oakland’s big plays and keeping the game close is the key to the game.  They did a poor job of that against Tennessee and it resulted in the exposure of McCoy’s biggest flaw–his inability to bring the team back from a large deficit.  Colt simply doesn’t have the skill set to overcome a 10-17 point hole, nor is he built for a shoot out type of game.  He isn’t capable of getting a quick score, he specializes in eight minute drives, thus, he is suited for the grind it out, lower scoring type of games.

Do I see the Browns coming out of Oakland with a win?  No, no I don’t.  But I sure love being wrong.

Prediction: Oakland 27 Cleveland 16

MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
The Worst - NFL Week 3: Steve Smith, Odell Beckham & of course the Browns
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

NFL announces Randy Gregory suspended another 10 games

Khris Middleton expected to miss six months after surgery

Report: Cowboys worried about Bryant's 'irresponsible' actions

Seahawks expecting Russell Wilson to play this week

Ryder Cup heckler wins $100 off Euro players by draining putt

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: ‘Slim’ chance J.J. Watt returns to Texans this season

Senator introduces anti-online gambling bill to Congress

SCOTUS petitioned to block $1B NFL concussion settlement

Alabama linebacker Tim Williams arrested on gun charge

Alabama’s opening week starting QB is transferring

Cubs sign Theo Epstein to five-year extension

NBA winners and losers: Gregg Popovich as a voice of reason

WATCH: Will LSU have to sell its soul to find its next head coach?

The clubhouse leaders for MLB Rookie of the Year

Goodbye, Ted: 20 years of highs and lows at Turner Field

Forza Horizon 3 review: Going Top Gear

NFL Kickoff Week 4: Guess what? The NFL is dying again

Box Score: 9/29 - Sparks, Scherzer and Jaso

How the BoSox went from fringe contenders to AL East champs

WNBA semifinals preview: Will the rust show for Lynx, Sparks?

Breaking down baseball’s Cy Young ballot

TailGreater: 'Sterngating' with the Huskies

Can anyone challenge the Cavs in murky Eastern Conference?

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NBA winners and losers: Gregg Popovich as a voice of reason

WATCH: Will LSU have to sell its soul to find its next head coach?

The clubhouse leaders for MLB Rookie of the Year

Goodbye, Ted: 20 years of highs and lows at Turner Field

Forza Horizon 3 review: Going Top Gear

NFL Kickoff Week 4: Guess what? The NFL is dying again

WNBA semifinals preview: Will the rust show for Lynx, Sparks?

Breaking down baseball’s Cy Young ballot

TailGreater: 'Sterngating' with the Huskies

Can anyone challenge the Cavs in murky Eastern Conference?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker