|Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Cribbs (16) catches a pass against Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan (31) in the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011, in Cleveland. The Titans defeated the Browns 31-13. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)|
Browns' McCoy hungry to win
BEREA, Ohio—Colt McCoy counts on ice to soothe his aches and pains, the hurt produced by some snarling 280-pound defensive end throwing him to the ground.
However, Cleveland's young quarterback hasn't found any cure to the deepest wound.
Losing gnaws at McCoy's soul.
"I hate it," he said.
Only four games into his second NFL season, McCoy has already lost as many games as the Browns' starter as he did in four years at Texas, where he finished his college career as the winningest QB in NCAA history.
The losses keep McCoy awake at night, causing the perfectionist to toss and turn as he rewinds play after play in his mind.
McCoy doesn't have to worry about an upcoming sleepless Sunday as the Browns (2-2) have a bye this week. But that doesn't mean he's taking a vacation. McCoy, who attempted a team record 61 passes in last week's 31-13 loss to Tennessee, is using the time to analyze his performance.
"Nothing," he said, "has been easy."
McCoy's first four games in the new West Coast offense coach Pat Shurmur installed have been shaky.
He's completed 58 percent of his passes (100 of 172) for 984 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions -- respectable numbers. At times, McCoy has looked sharp and seasoned. At others, he's looked lost.
The Browns are devoting this season to developing McCoy, who went 2-6 last season after being thrust into the starting lineup because of injuries.
They knew it would take time for him to learn Shurmur's system, and because of the NFL lockout, McCoy didn't have a full offseason to work with his receivers or Cleveland's coaches.
It's taking time, and Shurmur knows better than to rush the process.
He's teaching McCoy and preaching patience.
"He's a young player and in my mind, almost a rookie," Shurmur said Wednesday. "So his improvement can be great from practice to practice and game to game."
Or from snap to snap. McCoy feels he's getting better every time he touches the ball, and he agrees with Shurmur's assertion that with just 12 starts on his pro resume, he's the equivalent of a first-year player. And, he's not alone. Every player on Cleveland's offense is starting over.
"You look across the receiver room, nobody has been in the West Coast," McCoy said.
"You look at the tight ends. In a sense, we're all learning with a rookie quarterback. We've got a lot of room for improvement. We've got to figure things out, what works best, what receivers run the best routes at what spot, running backs, what's our best run schemes.
"Our bye has come at a good time where we can look at some things. I think the ceiling is tremendously high. I believe that. We've just all got to continue to play together, continue to get to know each other and just move on."
McCoy's teammates believe he has grown, and will continue to blossom.
Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas has been impressed with McCoy's ability to grasp the new offense and all its complexities.
"Every week he seems more comfortable in the huddle," Thomas said.
"He's more comfortable with the plays that we're running and just kind of the whole offense. He really has improved from week to week and what's exciting for me to see is where he is now versus where he was at the start of the season -- and where he's going to be at the end of the year."
That's assuming McCoy's in one piece.
He has taken some punishment in the past two games against Miami and Tennessee. The Dolphins weren't credited with any sacks, but they found their way to McCoy and roughed him up -- before he drove the Browns to a game-winning TD in the final minute.
"I have to credit Colt," Miami defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. "He did a better job than I thought he was capable of this early in the season. That youngster did a nice job of getting rid of the ball quick. He took some licks. If he wasn't sore he's made of steel, because he got hit."
Shurmur wants the Browns to do a better job of protecting McCoy.
Keeping the game close would help. When Cleveland fell behind by 25 points on Sunday, McCoy was forced to throw on every play and became a target for the Titans.
"You worry about that any time a quarterback gets hit," Shurmur said. "We're concerned about it, we focus on it and try to eliminate it. Let's hope in our tenure here that I never have to call 61 passes again because that's not the way to play the game. That's obviously the way things went, but we don't want that."
Shurmur has given his players the rest of the week off, and many of them couldn't wait to get out of town.
Not McCoy. He plans to spend a few days in Cleveland watching game tapes and getting a head start on the Browns' next opponent, Oakland on Oct. 16.
There's a lot to work on, but McCoy believes the Browns have already made some strides in four weeks.
"The attitude of our team is slowly starting to change," he said. "We want to win. We're going to give it everything we have. That's going to get us somewhere -- eventually."
Notes: Center Alex Mack remained hospitalized following an appendectomy on Monday. Shurmur said the Pro Bowler asked for his grade sheet Sunday, a sign "he's getting himself back mentally." If the Browns had a game this week, Thomas was confident Mack would play. ... CB Joe Haden and WR Josh Cribbs both missed practice with sprained knees. Shurmur hasn't ruled either out for the game against the Raiders.