Throughout this season, Cleveland fans had heard whispers and anecdotes of former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s rough, and perhaps extreme, treatment of then rookie Colt McCoy last season. An article by Michael Silver on Yahoo! this holiday weekend provided a bit of color to the story, with plenty of quotes from Browns players who seemed all too willing to talk about their former coach and his over-the-top treatment of McCoy. Browns players described in detail a number of incidents to Silver, most notably Daboll’s penchant for screaming at Colt through the headset in his helmet while the quarterback tried to call plays in the huddle and line up the team.
It apparently became so bad that Daboll’s treatment, and his constant dressing-down of the QB, became a running joke in the Browns locker room. When pressed by Silver, McCoy said that the treatment was for the best and made him a stronger man, even if it was hard to apprehend that last year. Browns players, however, took a different approach.
“It happened all the time. Running scout team, you basically look at a play-card in the huddle and run that play – it’s not like there’s a lot of gray area. And still, Daboll would lose it. One time Daboll was yelling at him as he was running the scout team, into his helmet, and it was the part of the drill that finished practice. As Colt’s walking to the team breakdown area, where Mangini is giving his speech, Daboll is still in his ear, screaming. People couldn’t believe it.”
Daboll and the coaching staff apparently had a practice of riding the rookies, as Alex Mack corroborated to Silver. Mack said that his hazing by the coaching staff was worse than anything he received from veteran teammates his rookie season. The most extreme anecdote centered on a “welcome to the league” moment Daboll initiated on McCoy:
Several Browns recalled a meeting early in the 2010 season in which Daboll told McCoy, “I just watched [tape of] your last college game, and you were terrible. What the hell were you throwing out there? That was one of the worst games I’ve ever seen. Why the [expletive] did we draft you?”
In addition to the locker room and headset shouting, another Browns player described an incident where Daboll asked McCoy to fill in at the fullback position during a walkthrough. When Colt, who obviously wasn’t accustomed to playing the position, ran the incorrect route, Daboll apparently lost it and went off on him. Football coaches are generally considered screamers, but throughout the article, Browns players consistently characterize Daboll’s treatment as extreme for the professional ranks.
Daboll refused to comment on the story or respond to the quotes from Browns’ players and McCoy. The only time Colt really went into detail was when prompted about the headset screaming:
“There were times I had to pull my helmet off to call a play in the huddle,” McCoy recalled in an interview earlier this month. “Guys could hear him yelling, and they’d say, ‘Just take it off.’ People said to me, ‘Man, I ain’t never seen anything like that. Just hang in there.’”
Daboll’s offense was a particular source of media criticism and fan outrage during the Mangini era. It’s obvious that Daboll did not appreciate Mike Holmgren’s regime thrusting a new handpicked quarterback on the existing offensive coaching staff. The offense, however, continues to struggle under Pat Shurmur. While the new coach and offensive coordinator may treat him better, the season on the field has been just as rough for McCoy, if not worse.
Both Tom Heckert and Mike Holmgren are still not sure what they have as we enter the final six games of the season. Just this month, Heckert declined to say Colt had regressed but indicated that there should be progress from this point forward. If Daboll’s treatment did in fact make him stronger as he says, he’ll need to call on that strength as the Browns enter the brutal AFC North portion of their schedule..