Roughly two weeks after it was first reported that Randy Lerner was set to sell the Browns, head coach Pat Shurmur publicly announced that Weeden would be the team's starting quarterback heading into Cleveland's first preseason contest, a game at the Detroit Lions. That announcement was hardly a shock for both fans and analysts. Weeden was, in all honesty, Cleveland's starting quarterback once the team selected the 28-year old with the 22nd overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft. Weeden consistently worked with Cleveland's first-team offense throughout the summer, while 2011 starting QB Colt McCoy was relegated to working with the twos.
Discussions about arm strength, athleticism and ability to lead an NFL offense have been irrelevant since this past spring. As many, myself included, pointed out this past April, no franchise selects a 28-year old QB in the first round of a NFL Draft only to then sit that QB on the bench the following fall. Weeden's time has always been now, and it seems that everybody except Colt McCoy has realized the reality of the situation since the beginning.
I do somewhat feel bad for McCoy. I believe McCoy when he says that he was told by his head coach before the 2012 NFL Draft that he was the team's starting QB. I also believe McCoy when he says that he was told before summer that he would get a chance to hold onto his starting gig. Either McCoy has simply been in denial over the past several months, or he just didn't see the writing on the wall, writing that was created by neon posts blinking an unmistakeable message of "Weeden is the starter!"
Nobody knows for sure if Weeden will be a winning NFL quarterback come September. With that said, Shurmur had to eliminate all doubt about the position before the team's first exhibition game. Browns fans have, in the past decade, seen what quarterback controversies of different kinds can do to a roster. It's not pretty, and this particular team certainly doesn't need any such distractions. Even without off-the-field problems, Cleveland may struggle to even sniff eight victories this season.
Browns fans are now left with the future of Colt McCoy to discuss. It was heavily hinted by multiple media outlets last April that the Browns were shopping McCoy after they drafted Weeden, and that McCoy remained with the team only because no suitable offers came. I stated back in May that I believed McCoy and the Browns needed to part ways. My opinion on the matter will only change if McCoy accepts his new role with the team.
McCoy wants to be a starting NFL quarterback right now. I respect that. Unless Weeden or other QBs around the league go down to injury this August, McCoy is going to be a second option for any team this September. That might not completely be a bad thing for McCoy. If there's one thing he knows very well, it's that the Cleveland offensive line isn't always first-rate when it comes to protecting the quarterback. McCoy being rested, healthy and motivated to prove doubters wrong could ultimately land him in a better spot than where he was one year ago. That process could even start this weekend if McCoy impresses while on the field during Cleveland's first preseason game.
Weeden is the future of the Browns, and that future begins now. I have no problem with that. I look forward to getting a glimpse of that future this weekend; and also a look at how McCoy handles his new role with the team.