- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Ever since the Cleveland Browns drafted Brandon Weeden in the first round almost a year ago, ending Colt McCoy's 21-game run as a starter, there has been a debate about whether McCoy was given a fair shot with the Browns.
This isn't just an argument within the Browns' fan base. It's also an on-going dialogue with the media that covers the team. This was stirred up again this week when McCoy was traded to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday.
The Plain Dealer's Bill Livingston is among those who believe McCoy never got a real chance.
Livingston wrote: "For their part, the Browns sent McCoy out to play with an offense in which turnstiles could have replaced the offensive line, in order to better slow down the pass rush, always excepting left tackle Joe Thomas; in which drafted receivers could not get open; and in which the focus of the attack, Peyton Hillis, turned out to be a muscle-bound malingerer."
Vic Carucci of the Browns' official website thinks McCoy received a fair opportunity to start.
"I know all of the discussion about him not getting a sustained look with a better supporting cast than he had in 2011," Carucci wrote. "However, I think he received sufficient time as a starter to demonstrate that he has enough physical limitations, particularly with his arm, to fall short of what it takes to succeed in the No. 1 role. And this deal is additional proof that he’s in the right role as a backup."
You can make the case that the Browns gave up on McCoy too early based on statistics. In his first 15 starts (the same amount Weeden had last season), McCoy had a better completion rate, threw more touchdowns and produced a better passer rating. They even had identical 5-10 records.
But, when basing it on talent and not numbers, McCoy simply isn't a starting quarterback. He's an average backup at best. It's hard for McCoy's supporters to accept this because he has great intangibles. Hard worker. Tough. Likable. This doesn't take away the fact that he doesn't have the arm to throw the ball consistently downfield. Weeden had 48 completions over 20 yards in 15 games last season. McCoy needed 21 starts to reach that number.
When it comes to making the judgment call on McCoy, it's not about whether he got a fair shot or not with the Browns. He's just not a starter in this league. If he was, the Browns would've received more than a seventh-round pick for him.