Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Long and Winding Road: Tim Couch

Note: Prepare for a completely biased account regarding my deep love and affection for the one, Tim Couch.

Let’s start this off with my first memories of the legend. 1999. The Browns get a new team after Art Modell stripped Cleveland of their beloved just three years prior. I’m 13 years old. Of course I’m going to love whoever they draft in the first round. Tim Couch, quarterback out of the University of Kentucky it is. I have two, count ‘em, TWO Couch jerseys in my closet to this day. I already had the brown when my uncle bought me the white; I kept it anyway. The Browns went a paltry 2-14 in their expansion season. Their first win was on the road against the Saints where Couch connected with everyone’s favorite rookie Kevin Johnson on a Hail Mary. It was awesome. Oh, and his running back was Terry Kirby that year. Yep.

The 2000 season was the one where he ended up playing 7 games and broke his thumb in practice. The team was awful, they went 3-13, and Chris Palmer got nixed. Tough break, kid. (I still don’t understand why they fired Palmer so early. It was an expansion team for Christ’s sake).

2001 was the year that the soon-to-be-devil showed his face. Butch Davis entered the scene and brought the team to a 7-9 record-- pretty exciting stuff in Cleveland. This was the year that I specifically remember Chris Berman and TJ giving out fake presents on NFL Primetime during the Christmas season. They said they would give the Browns a real running game to see how good they really could be. That tells you how bad Couch’s team sucked, and he hung in there to throw for 3,000 yards. This was the year of the bottle throwing incident (I was there). I could sit here and say they got robbed and should have been 8-8, but I won’t will. They should have been 8-8.

Then, 2002 happened. I have probably never been more excited in my sports life. The Cleveland Browns (the BROWNS!) made the playoffs while strapped on the back of a pretty good defense and Tim Couch. Couch threw for nearly 3,000 yards and had 18 touchdown passes. He looked like he was going to be a serviceable-at-worst starter after all, leading the team to an 8-6 record when he started. This was also the year when Browns fans cheered when he got hurt against the Ravens on Sunday night (week five) because they were excited for Holcomb to come in (amazing what a 1-1 record to start the year can do for you because Couch was shelved with elbow tendonitis). He bounced back to go 7-4 in his next 11 starts after the Sunday night Baltimore debacle despite the fans giving up on him in week five.

The final game of the season was against the Atlanta Falcons. Tim’s bad luck continued, as he broke his leg during the game (read: out for playoffs). The Browns went on to win, and a berth in the playoffs was clinched after the Jets delivered a little beat to the Packers for us.

With Couch shelved, Kelly Holcomb got the nod in the playoff game at Pittsburgh. Because of his decent 2 starts at the beginning of the season mentioned above, Browns’ fans had sufficient confidence in him. Some were even ecstatic that he was playing instead of “That bum Tim Couch.” That confused me, and I, of course, was distraught that Couch couldn’t play in the playoff game that he earned, but it was still Browns playoff football.

The Steelers’ secondary was absolutely awful that year. Holcomb lit them up for 429 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT, going 26/43 passing in the 36-33 loss. I can’t stress the word loss enough.

Can I sit here and tell you that the Browns would have beaten the Steelers had Couch played instead of Holcomb? Of course not; the defense was abysmal that game, getting owned by Tommy Maddox.

A quarterback controversy erupted going into the 2003 season. You had your senseless Holcomb backers and your loyal Couch supporters. Butch Davis announced his decision, saying that he had a “gut feeling” about Holcomb. I almost puked in my mouth. How could a player be stripped of his job due to an injury, when the replacement didn’t even take the team anywhere? This wasn’t a Brady over Bledsoe or Warner over Green situation. This was a team that was guided to a 9-7 record under one guy, then they lost a playoff game where the replacement threw for a bajillion yards against a bad secondary in a shootout. Get out of town, Butch.

And he did. Butch and Kelly followed up the playoff season with a less than stellar 5-11 record. Tim and Kelly each saw action in 10 of those games, but at that point, Couch’s playing time didn’t matter. All confidence was lost in Couch by both Davis and the fans that irrationally jumped on the “Kelly Holcomb is God Bandwagon.” Whoever was driving shotgun of that thing drove it into a telephone pole. I’m sure there were many casualties (call it survival of the fittest). Couch was let go by the team, and that was the extent of his Cleveland Browns stint.

I can’t tell you that they would have been a lot better than 5-11 in the “gut feeling” year, as I call it, but I bet they would have. It’s a lot different being the backup with no pressure that everyone loves than the starter, isn’t it, Kelly?

Butch then started off 2004 with a bang, going 3-9 and securing that his ass got fired. He took the rest of his guaranteed contract money, with a smile on his face I’m sure, and went back to college football where he belongs. All while helping to wreck what could have been a pretty good Tim Couch career. Thanks for letting us witness your ego problem, Butch.

And the beats haven’t stopped. He has since had a boatload of arm troubles, and he just never got anything going. He was actually booed off the field at Lambeau in training camp during his preseason appearances with the Packers. Talk about a shattered self-esteem.

Just because I don’t feel like summarizing Tuesday’s steroid news, here’s what someone posted on his Wikipedia page:

On August 28, 2007, Yahoo! Sports reported that Couch, while attempting to recover from shoulder surgery, knowingly took anabolic steroids and human growth hormone as part of his daily regimen. HGH are banned by the NFL. Despite Couch's statements that he never took any illegal steroids, the same reports indicate that he did while taking the HGH. This also comes months after Couch said he never took HGH, so these statements have now been rebutted. If a NFL team signs Couch for the 2007 season, pending the outcome of the investigation Couch could face disciplinary action because a free agent or retired player who attempts a comeback remains subject to the NFL's drug policy.

That’s pretty much it. Tim will always hold a special place in my heart. But he doesn’t give a shit. He still has his guaranteed money from his rookie contract and Playboy Playmate Heather Kozar as his wife.

I guess I shouldn't feel bad after all.


Buzzsaw said...

I have had a similar experience with the double gift giving. Back in the early nineties, I received two copies of Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation" for my birthday. I have no idea why this happened, I think everyone thought I was gay or soemthing. Receiving the gift in front of my friends was a moment that will haunt me forever. But dancing alone to 'Nation' in my tighty's will be a moment I always cherish as a moment of true happiness.

Buzzsaw said...

Wow, that article was a roller coaster ride, awesome job doing justice to his insane career. It's nice to hear it from the non-"Couch Sucks!" side too. And great use of the strikethrough. And I hope you enabled 'search safe' when you googled Heather Kozar, I don't think Kaitlin would approve of some of the 'gross' things you would have seen.

BigLots said...

The only thing that I remember about the Tim Couch era is how he stole Kozar from my own beloved Cade McNown.

Buzzsaw said...

Couch better watch out, Kevin Kolb is on the prowl.

Constant Comment said...

after reading that write up, i apologize for starting the tim ouch chant at the bar this weekend. I truly am sorry. You don't mock a man who's that passionate about another man.....wait sometimes you do, but anyway, in this instance it was unacceptable.

I've been converted to the Tim Couch was screwed camp.

Guy said...

One conversion at a time.

Soon, only 97% of the world will think Tim Couch was a screw up, as opposed to the 98% now.

Michael Beckwith said...

I still remember Butch Davis throwing D-Cord. Foge Fazio under the bus after that Shittsburgh loss. It was Butch's decision not to rush Maddox in the second half with that 3 man rush. Foge wanted to keep up the pressure...the players openly said so after the game. I'll never forgive Butch for poorly handling the Couch situation, screwing up every draft, and blowing up that defense after 2002.

Nice blog btw.

mjenks said...

Ah, Butch Davis...what a stand up guy.

Now he's 9 miles down the road from me. If I were a Browns fan, I'd be shitting in his yard every day.

You know what, I might start doing that for you guys.

Anonymous said...

the jets beat the packers to get the browns into the playoffs, not the other way around

Jimbo said...

Couldn't agree with you more, I made simliar outline a year ago... I also had the perverbial man-crush on Timmy.

Anonymous said...

The man cried for being booed off the field. CRIED! He was not a NFL player because he was a pussy!

Canaan said...

Couch cried because he had a concussion; the team should have never allowed the media near him. Actually, the Saints losing to the Panthers is what got the Browns into the playoffs that year. After New Orleans lost, Atlanta clinched, which was relayed to head coach Dan Reeves, who then decided not to run with Vick when the Falcons had the ball on the Browns 2 in the closing seconds. They instead ran it up the middle with Warrick Dunn, who was stuffed by Earl Holmes. I was in the Couch camp as well during the whole Holcomb/Couch debacle, but I don't think Couch could have torched the Steelers the way Holcomb did. Holcomb just attacked, attacked, attacked, often to his detriment, but it actually worked against the Steelers If you remember, Pittsburgh had trouble stopping spread out offenses that entire season, such as the season opener vs. New England [Brady, 294 yards] and vs. Oakland [Gannon, 408] the next week. These two games provided a template to beating the Steelers, and having Holcomb in the game allowed OC Bruce Arians to call that type of offense. If Couch were in, the throws and patterns would have been much more conservative, and a greater emphasis would have been made to run the ball with William Green (who had just carried the Browns offense into the playoffs), which would have played right into Pittsburgh's strength. As much as I loved Tim Couch, Holcomb was the Browns only hope vs. the Steelers. Butch Davis deserves 100 percent blame for that loss for calling off the blitz and allowing Tommy Maddox, one of the shakiest quarterbacks ever under pressure, to sit back and read a soft zone defense. The Browns were up 24-7 in the 3rd quarter. They better get back to the playoffs soon so that I can stop thinking about that game, which you may be able to tell I do way too much.

Larron said...

I feel the same way about Ricky Williams' Saints career. Jim Haslett is my Butch Davis. Sometimes the coach is the asshole!!!!

Nye! said...

After New Orleans lost, Atlanta clinched, which was relayed to head coach Dan Reeves, who then decided not to run with Vick when the Falcons had the ball on the Browns 2 in the closing seconds. They instead ran it up the middle with Warrick Dunn, who was stuffed by Earl Holmes.

Two things about that. (1) It was relayed not only to Dan Reeves, but to the entire stadium. Repeatedly, during the Falcons' last drive. When Reeves kept handing the ball to Dunn he was the most popular man in Cleveland for the first and only day in his life. (2) I am pretty sure it was Dwayne Rudd who stuffed Dunn, not Holmes. Not that it matters. (OK, a third thing. Remember William Green's 78-yard TD run in that game? Man, that was electrifying.)

I am and always have been in the "Tim Couch got screwed" camp, for what it's worth.

And as for Butch Davis, I will argue this point to the death -- he was an excellent coach, but a terrible GM. If he had been paired with even a minimally competent personnel guy (let alone someone who actually knows what he's doing, like Phil Savage) he could have stuck around Cleveland for a long time.

Buzzsaw said...

I thought William Green was gonna be awesome. He was fast as hell. What happened to him? Do people just disintegrate after a few years playing in a running back by committee? That's what it seems like.

Guy said...

Sorry about the Jets/Packers mix-up. I'll fix that.

Beezner said...

You never call Tim Couch a pussy. Never. You might think you are anonymous, but Tim Couch knows who you are. Tim Couch is always watching.

Laser Rocket Arm said...

Actually Heather Kozar dumped Couch for Cade McNown, but when McNown crashed and burned with the Bears she ran back to Couch, who still had a job. He paid her back by waiting until she was about six months pregnant before he finally married her.

Anonymous said...

I think you guys are looking back at the stats and forgetting how bad he really was. Now, I will admit, he wasn't as bad as he could of been, but it was deadly obvious he was never going to make it.

#1) He has the same problem Charlie Frye has right now, he just doesn't have an eye for the field...You can repeatedly see open receivers, and the QB throws to option #2 guy who is double covered with a safety at his back -- often a recipe for an INT. Most of his throws were to the flats, which in the NFL, should be considered a handoff. (Although that ultimately goes down as passing yards)

#2) He didn't throw it away, and he was slower than molasses so that he couldn't scramble, and was sacked repeatedly for it. What makes him different than Charlie Frye, is Charlie is apparantly tough as a coffin nail, as the 2007 season looks like it will be just as brutal due to weak O-Line, just like Couch endured.

The reason Browns fans got upset with him was he was missing wide-open receivers when the O-Line WAS protecting him(although, admittedly, that was not nearly enough). The first couple years, people wrote this off as rookie nerves/experience, but it became clear he was not improving at all. He couldn't hit a target if the pass was over 10 yards. He threw high (begging for receiver injury, and INT's), couldn't lead a receiver, etc. It was obvious he was not going to get any better, and I think the jury is already out on that fact, as both Green Bay and Jacksonville dismissed him immediately.

What won the playoff position was great defense (including a great secondary that year) and decent (I stress the word) rushing. And it is true the Couch started a lot of those games that year(stated as a "start" eventhough he didn't finish), but Holcomb bailed him out of more than one, by hitting Northcutt who showed a lot of promise. Holcomb was not a great QB either, but it was clearly obvious that he had the two most needed talents: ability to scan field, and the ability to throw consistently at target at 10+ yds. I was at the Falcons game when the Brown's clinched and it was a lucky run at the end of the game that won it for them -- the defense holding Atlanta's score down.

I think everyone in Cleveland agrees that it was a mistake drafting a 1st round QB. Should have built up an O-Line and defense and went with a tough veteran. BUT, Couch never had it in him. Broken-leg got him sure, but a stubbed thumb is common and tendinitis has nothing really to do with getting sacked. If he had been drafted by the Eagles, he would be, at best, a 3rd-string today. Some players who do well in college, just do not do well in NFL--it happens. They cannot take the severe increase in physical game, speed and overall talent of their opponents.

I wholeheartedly disagree that the Browns team was mediocre in 2002. Green was a fine rusher, Northcutt was a great receiver (as well as others who were good), and the defense was top-notch (although they were on the field ALL the time, so one had to cut SOME slack). The O-Line was weak as heck, but he missed so many passes. Everyone could see the oppurtunity, which is why when Holcomb came in, and completed the pass to the wide-open guy that Couch would have overlooked, everyone got excited.

I just think it's absurd to think that the reason teams are throwing him out of training camps is because the Browns ruined his "confidence". Guy was mediocre at best, and prone to injury (only 1 (broken leg) of his injuries was due to sack/lack of O-Line). I think a lot of people feel sorry for him for the way the fans treated him (although for every jerk booing, 10 fans were not), and some still cling to the "our new superstar" feeling that just never happened and instead choose to blame Davis.

As far as the NFL goes though(I don't have anything against the guy personally), he did suck; and apparently still does. He got 30mil for 3 bad seasons. Don't feel bad for him at all. Would you take 30mil for 2 years of frustration followed by a year of rejection from a crowd of 20k? I would absolutely -- I'd do it naked too! I don't feel sorry for the guy. He has no financial worries. If anything, he should consider himself lucky that he wasn't drafted late, as he would of ended up with 5 mil, and still in the same position he is today (less 25 mil of course!).

Anonymous said...

Well he got a playmate and Mcnown got a former hooker/gold digger who was still married at the time she met him. She used to sleep with Brandon Davis for money!!!!!

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