By Tony Grossi
The Morning Kickoff …
Chemistry class: Seneca Wallace as a mentor? It’s not a role he embraced with Colt McCoy as the starting quarterback.
“I’ve talked about this already,” Wallace said, irritated with a subject that was a PR disaster for him. “Last year was a different situation. Me and Colt were supposed to be in a quarterback competition. That was to get him better, to get me better. As a competitor, you don’t want to give the guy an upper edge. At the same time, when the decision was made and he was the guy, I was here to help him out.”
His body language on game days said differently, of course. When the Browns’ defense was on the field, McCoy and Wallace on the sideline stood as far apart as O’Reilly and Olberman.
But in the OTA and minicamp portion of the new Browns’ season, Wallace has snuggled up to Brandon Weeden. The two have been seen on the practice field actually talking to each other, which is a lot more than can be said about Wallace and McCoy.
“Seneca’s been doing it for 10 years,” Weeden said. “He’s seen about all there is to see in this league. If I can just absorb some of the stuff he’s been telling me, to me, that goes a long ways.”
That West Coast thing: It should not be forgotten that the only quarterback with any history of note in the West Coast offense is Wallace. He was Mike Holmgren’s backup quarterback for six years in Seattle.
“All the stuff we’re doing now is pretty much all the stuff I’ve done in the past,” Wallace said of Brad Childress’ input as new offensive coordinator. “It might be new to Colt and Brandon, who have not been really in the West Coast system for a long time. We’re doing a lot of things like moving the quarterbacks around, moving the pocket, which is good. Some of the stuff he’s introduced is good. Nolan Cromwell (senior offensive assistant) plays a big role in that as well. He does a great job of coaching it up.”
Wallace said that Weeden has been receptive to whatever Wallace is telling him.
“He’s taking it. Little things I see that he can improve on are things that he might miss and he takes them and runs with them. He seems coachable,” Wallace said.
Wallace’s assessment of Weeden?
“Big kid, strong arm. Obviously he’s seasoned, he’s 28 years old. He’s obviously played some football at Oklahoma State and did a good job for them. He’s learning still, but at the same time, he’s got all the things you want out of a quarterback.”
Yet Wallace knows that Weeden will find things a little differently when the team returns for training camp in six weeks.
“It’s gonna be different,” Wallace said. “Not saying he doesn’t look good but things change when you put pads on. The game speeds up. The defense starts doing a lot more different things to us, blitzing. And it has to carry over.”
Bottom line:The forgotten quarterback in camp is Thaddeus Lewis. He was a mobile passer that Shurmur had in St. Louis as an undrafted free agent in 2011. When the Rams released Lewis on the final roster cut last year, Shurmur led the charge to claim him for the Browns.
Since Lewis was added in the first week of the regular season, nobody in Cleveland had a chance to see him play. Shurmur said he intends to give Lewis some playing time in the Browns’ preseason. “I saw him do good work in the preseason that I had him,” the coach said.
Shurmur confirmed that he favors keeping three quarterbacks on the final roster.
So let’s break it down. When configuring a quarterback roster that involves a rookie as a starter, you normally want a veteran as the backup, someone with some kind of wisdom to impart to the young starter. The third quarterback normally is a developmental guy, a player who may have some skills worth developing.
Exactly where does McCoy fit on this depth chart? You could probably make an argument for any of the three roles. Or none of them.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
Return to: Grossi Stories Blog