2003 camp battles: Tossups at quarterback
Posted: Thursday July 10, 2003 7:12 PM
Tim Couch may get just one last chance to
shine as the Browns' starting QB this season.
By Bob Harris, Special to SI.com
Cleveland Browns: Tim Couch vs. Kelly Holcomb
On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated's Don Banks wrote:
"Put them on truth serum, and almost everybody in
the Browns organization -- players, coaches and
executives alike -- believe they're a better team
with Kelly Holcomb at the helm. Last year's
surprise playoff run confirmed that."
However, Banks went on to advise readers that
head coach Butch Davis is going to give Couch one
last chance to prove he's the kind of "franchise"
player team officials believed he was when they
drafted him with the first overall pick back in
Of course, if Couch doesn't beat Holcomb out this
summer, the $8.75 million bonus management handed
him near the end of the 2001 season will have
been money wasted. But in fairness to the Browns,
the decision on Couch's bonus had to be made then
and there. How could they have possibly known
Holcomb would go on to post the third-highest
passing total in NFL playoff history while
subbing for an injured Couch?
Based on that performance -- and Couch's
four-year totals (57 touchdowns, 60 interceptions
and a career passer rating of 74.8), the outcome
of this one is hardly etched in stone and even
though he doesn't share Couch's first-round
pedigree, Holcomb isn't at a total disadvantage
Among the factors weighing in Holcomb's favor:
The loyalty of his teammates, the backing of his
coaches and of course, results. But as more than
one observer has noted, the majority of Holcomb's
2002 success came at the expense of opponents who
couldn't defend the pass.
If Holcomb does win the job, coaches will be able
to use their entire playbook with confidence.
According to the Medina County Gazette, because
Holcomb reads defenses better, the Browns can
throw into the middle of the field -- and the
middle of the coverage -- more than they can with
Bottom line? I advise a wait-and-see approach
here if at all possible, but as I've told you
time and time again, money talks and Couch hasn't
been a backup since the second week of his rookie
season; Holcomb, on the other hand, has failed to
emerge as a true starter in six seasons with
three NFL teams.
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