Originally created 09/16/99

Future now for Couch, Browns



BEREA, Ohio -- Tim Couch wasn't drafted No. 1 to be a backup, a clipboard carrier or commercial pitchman.

The rookie was going to become the Cleveland Browns' starting quarterback of the future.

The future arrived faster than Couch or the Browns expected.

Couch will replace Ty Detmer as the starter Sunday when Cleveland, coming off an embarrassing opening loss to Pittsburgh, travels to Tennessee to play the Titans.

"I didn't know when this would happen," Couch said Wednesday. "If it would be this year or not. I'm grateful for the opportunity. Hopefully, I'll go out and do what I'm capable of doing. Go out and put some points on the board."

One point would be an improvement for the Browns. They were shut out 43-0 by Pittsburgh Sunday night, and the blowout yielded almost unimaginable, lopsided statistics for an NFL game.

The Browns managed just two first downs, were outgained 460-40 and had the ball for a mere 12:11.

Cleveland coach Chris Palmer hinted at a quarterback change Monday. After consulting with his staff, he decided on Tuesday night to start Couch.

The Browns had planned to bring Couch along slowly, grooming him as Detmer's understudy while the rookie from Kentucky learned the complexities of the pro game. But Palmer scrapped the plan, partly after seeing Detmer struggle in the opener and because of Couch's potential.

"I'm looking for guys to make plays," Palmer said. "I'm not disappointed in Ty. I think Ty would be able to do a better job in this situation as a reliever compared to Tim as a reliever."

Couch, who signed a $48 million contract before the Browns even selected him, threw an interception on his first pro attempt against the Steelers. He finished 0-for-3 and also fumbled.

That's hardly a performance worthy of taking away someone's starting job. But Detmer knew his days were numbered.

"It's a lot sooner than I expected," Detmer said. "The way things had gone, and things that had been said, but that's the NFL. A lot of things happen during the course of a season and during the course of a week. It's a decision that's been made. You move on.



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