As NFL baptisms go, it can't possibly be any rougher for a rookie quarterback.
Tough Texas kid or naive newbie? We'll see.
McCoy, so impressive in his debut last week in Pittsburgh, will make his second consecutive start Sunday at New Orleans when the Browns visit the Superdome, one of the NFL's loudest venues, where even the most seasoned quarterback can be rattled by the deafening din.
No need to light a prayer candle.
He showed poise, toughness and enough promise to make the Browns believe the third-round draft pick, whose size might have scared off a few teams during the draft, can be their future quarterback.
Emphasis on can be.
In one of the league's nastiest, most intimidating environments, McCoy completed 23 of 33 passes for 281 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. But his stats were only part of the story. The night before his first Browns-Steelers game, McCoy stood in front of his teammates, and in his country-fried accent, declared he was ready to stare down the black-and-gold beast.
"I told them the hay was in the barn," McCoy said. "Just meant we worked really hard all week, and we were prepared, and we had a good game plan."
Did he have to explain the expression?
"For some of the city folk, I had to," McCoy said.
Browns president Mike Holmgren summoned McCoy to his office Tuesday to offer his critique of the 23-year-old's first professional outing. The guru of quarterback gurus, who coached Joe Montana, Steve Young and Brett Favre, complimented McCoy and offered some advice.
"I told him I was very impressed," Holmgren said. "I said he had a very good first game in a tough place against a very good team. Then I said, 'Now what do we do? You're going against another really good team in a tough place, I expect you to do better. This is not a one-game deal here. If you expect to do this for a long time, you have to do it again.'"
The Heinz Field stage Sunday wasn't too big for McCoy, who spent four years playing in big games for the University of Texas. There was no panic, no sense of doom, no feeling that he couldn't succeed. McCoy showed he belonged -- from beginning to end.
McCoy wasn't happy with a few of his downfield reads. He left the pocket too soon on a few plays, and he wishes he hadn't forced a pass deep over the middle that became his first career interception. McCoy knows he needs to drop the ball off underneath. Instead of forcing passes, he needs to throw the ball away to avoid turnovers.
"For my first start," McCoy said. "I think there's a lot of things that you can look at and say, 'OK, that was pretty good. Now let's just get it a little bit better. Let's make a little better throws in some tight coverage and things like that.'"
"There is a calmness about him, and you can see that on the coach's tape," Payton said. "He's accurate, and he's got that calmness under fire."
"What, are we the shortest quarterbacks in the NFL?" McCoy cracked.
McCoy is reluctant to be put in the same class as Brees, a 6-footer. One day perhaps. But not now. Not after only one start.
"I don't deserve to have my name put in the same sentence with Drew Brees," McCoy said. "He's somebody that I really looked up to. What a great day it's gonna be to able to be on the same field at the same time as him. I watched every game last year. He's somebody that I just look up to. I admire how he plays. I admire his leadership in the locker room. He's just an outstanding football player."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press