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Was Tim Couch’s NFL career doomed from the start?

Kentucky fans don’t have much reason to pay close attention to the 2012 NFL draft. Barring any surprises there are only two Kentucky Wildcats with chances to be selected. Probably in the later rounds. But with it being draft time, Kentucky fans can’t help but remember thirteen years ago when the guy from their own backyard was the best prospect in the nation. Like this draft, there were only two Kentucky players drafted in the 1999 draft, and one of them was the first overall pick, Tim Couch. Couch was selected by the Cleveland Browns, one of the most historically bad franchises in the NFL, and could never overcome the lack of talent throughout the organization. He played only five seasons in the NFL, with just one playoff appearance to show for it. Analysts insist that if Couch had been in a better situation he would’ve been able to flourish. Fox Sports Ohio’s Pat McManamon, a beat writer for the Browns during the Couch era, shares that same sentiment. He says that Couch had the talent to succeed, but that his underachieving career characterizes all that the Post-1999 Cleveland Browns were:

Couch was done in by expansion, his own struggles (to which he readily admits) and the impatience of the Browns. A team trying to find a quarterback spent his tenure trying to decide if he was the quarterback.

“When you’re in it, you think completely different,” Couch said. “But when you get removed from it you realize. That was almost an impossible situation to be successful in. It really was. We just didn’t have a lot of talent. Every week was a struggle. Then I had my problems. I kept getting hurt. It was one thing after another.”

Being selected first overall in the NFL Draft comes with the responsibility of being called to help your team succeed immediately. That can be a lot of pressure for a kid directly out of college to deal with. And it was especially difficult for Couch.

“When I look back at that season now, I think the best thing would have been if I had sat for the year behind Ty and just learned,” Couch said. “It’s one thing if you’re a young Ben Roethlisberger who goes to such a veteran team. You can put a young quarterback in that situation. As an expansion team … it’s very similar to what happened with David Carr in Houston. It’s almost impossible for a guy to go in and start right away.

“I wish I had the opportunity to sit and learn that first year.”

“As I look back I certainly should not have played,” he said. “I wasn’t ready to handle the situation.”

Couch’s collegiate career was marked by a head coaching change that allowed him to become one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC. Coach Hal Mumme’s Air Raid offense allowed Couch to show off his ability to throw the football at an elite level, and eventually led to him being drafted by the Browns. Let’s say Couch stays one more year in Mumme’s offense, enters the 2000 NFL draft, and goes to a different situation. Are we looking at a potential pro bowl quarterback? It’s tough to call but you never want to see an athlete, especially a Cat, not live up to his hype. What could have been.

Article written by Rashawn Franklin

50 Comments for Was Tim Couch’s NFL career doomed from the start?

  1. NKY
    8:05 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    tim is right, it was a horrible situation for him. if you could have picked the absolute WORST team for tim to go to that year, it would have been cleveland

  2. ol blue
    8:11 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    Being a high draft pick means, barring some sort of bizarre trade, that you’re going to play for one of the worst teams in the league. It just goes with the territory.

    The only QB I can think of that even came close to pulling it off was Archie Manning (picked 2nd by the Saints in 1971). In his 10 years with the Saints, he was sacked something like 350 times. Manning would later say that his 10 years in New Orleans took 5 years off of his career.

  3. UKUKUK1865
    8:14 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    The Browns should have spent all their draft picks that year and the next year on the OL. Couch got killed every week.

  4. cccatfan
    8:18 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    Couch was threw to the wolves that first year. At the time, didnt he get sacked an NFL record times? He spent most of his time pulling himself off the turf. He probably would have been served better to return his senior year to stay out of that situation. But who could turn that kind of money down? I wish things would have turned out different for him, because he is my favorite Cat Football player ever. Those Air Raid years were really fun.

  5. Mr. Jagerbomb
    8:23 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    Browns fan here,wish it would have worked out for him.My question is will the Browns ever be good again? Or should I just give up ?

  6. UK Rifle >>>> WVU Rifle
    8:24 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    Spend the money on an O line before drafting a #1 pick, that way you protect your investment.

  7. barn
    8:28 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    couch is lucky to be alive after the beatings he took in the mistake by the lake

  8. SagaciousMind
    8:31 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    Couch leaving his junior year was definitely a mistake. Everyone knows with a new expansion team they will draft a QB first, and will have virtually no offensive line. Same thing happened to Carr. Tim stayed for his senior season, he may have been a heisman winner and good NFL QB. He just had no protection.

  9. Dragonophile
    8:35 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    Rashawn, you are certainly showing your age: “…Cleveland Browns, one of the most historically bad franchises in the NFL…” This is absolutely not true. It applies to the re-born Browns but the pre-expansion Browns had some very good teams and players: Otto Graham, Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly, Lou Groza, Frank Ryan, etc etc. The Cleveland Browns have a very good heritage but ever since Modell was allowed to take the original team to Baltimore, bad does fit the current franchise.

    8:37 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    Tim Couch sucks and so do the browns. What player blames his career on a team though? What a worthless piece of crap. And he said a rookie QB can’t come to the league and succed his first year… Look what Andy Dalton did with the bengals!

  11. UK Rifle >>>> WVU Rifle
    8:38 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    @ SagaciousMind

    If memory serves his junior year at UK he was protected by a senior O line that was graduating that year, which was a reason to bolt. In hindsight he got beat up either way, but he at least has some cash to fall back on.

  12. bkroger10
    8:39 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    totally agree with #9, the Browns are not a historically bad team, being a Browns fan myself, since the were re-established in the league in 199 they have had two good seasons. Trent Richardson to the Browns tomorrow night!

  13. Rashawn Franklin
    8:41 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    9. When was the last time they won a Super Bowl? I’ll wait.

  14. Keyts
    8:45 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    For real, couch never had the arm strength to be a top NFL Qb

  15. Dragonophile
    8:48 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    You used the word “historically” – that implies a time span that encompasses the NFL rather than the SB only. If your definition of historically bad includes those never winning a SB, then I think we can call a number of teams “historically bad”.

  16. Tomas
    8:49 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    Tim Couch was the product of a system. Look at all other QB’s to come out of that type of offense. None of them succeed in the NFL. As Kentucky fans we like to pretend that Couch would have been good, but he would not have been. At best he would have been a back-up and for a number 1 pick that is a bust.

  17. Tomas
    8:50 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    You people need to think before you type. The Browns have made some of the most famous and historic blunders in the worst times. Are their franchises that are worse than them? Maybe. But when I think of failure in the NFL I think the Cleveland Browns.

  18. the Big Dog
    8:51 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    If Couch had been taken 20th in the draft he might have played for ten years. FYI- the old Browns won the NFL championship in 1950, 1954, 1955 and 1964. They are one of four NFL teams that have never made it to the Super Bowl.

  19. Dragonophile
    8:56 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    The reason the blunders are so noteworthy is that Cleveland had a couple great teams on the verge of getting to the championship game but were thwarted by last minute mistakes – like The Fumble and Red Right 88. Big blunders are overlooked in mediocre teams with little chance of success. Denver was our nemesis.

  20. Rashawn Franklin
    8:56 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    And there are a lot of teams that are historically bad. I’m a Bears fan and we have numerous NFL championships but they aren’t Super Bowls so I don’t count them. Back then it wasn’t the same NFL that it is today.

  21. Turley Curd
    9:00 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    If the dog hadn’t bumped his ass he’da caught the rabbit.

  22. Dragonophile
    9:01 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    #18 – but how many division championships and championship games did they play in? Were they lowest in playoff games played? I am not arguing they have been the most successful franchise ever, merely that historically bad doesn’t fit.

  23. No shit
    9:02 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    No shit

  24. Yeast and Sanford
    9:05 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    Couch made his money based on Yeast and Sanford busting 5 yard passes for 70-80 yard completions. The 5 yard passes didn’t work in the NFL. In one year as the starter Dusty Bonner had stats that were comparable to Couch’s first year under Mumme (roughly a 2:1 TD:Interception ratio, and 7.0 yds per attempt), and that was without Yeast and Sanford. Couch was lucky he was working in a system offense, otherwise he would have been exposed in college vs the pros. That being said, bring back a system offense PLEASE !!!

  25. Mike
    9:06 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    It is pretty sad with the way Joker and his changing staff have coached up our players to be able to only have one player possibly picked in the 6th round and then only of the best, if not the bst, LB’s in the league possibly not even being drafted. No wonder it is so hard for them to recruit quality with consistency.

  26. 10isanarsh
    9:07 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    Couch was a great QB at UK, and will always be remembered as such.

  27. Atlanta falcons
    9:07 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    Chris Redman is STILL PLAYING . . . . making millions in Atlanta . . I’m just sayin . . . .

  28. Big O
    9:18 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    Not a NFL expert by no means so I will refrain from comments. My only question is, where did this come from? Who cares? Come on RF give us something news worthy. UK ROUNDBALL would be nice.

  29. kfund
    9:30 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    At the time, and ever since, I’ve always said that Couch & his handlers should have worked out a deal to go to the Dolphins. He would have had a couple years to study under Marino, learn the game, and inherit an O-line and recevier corps built around a passer. He would have had a real career.

  30. Robukpt
    9:37 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    No offense to yeast and Sanford but as a guy who saw first hand on the field Tim couch AND kio Sanford (twice) couch was the real deal. He didn’t have a problem dropping in 30-40 yard bombs against us and had such a great game it was mentioned in the pre-uk sports illustrated article. Couch was victim of a bad team, bad injuries, and a big ego. None of those let him flourish. My high school highlights: 4a state championship (that bounced trinity and st x back to back to bring it home), getting thrashed by Tim couch, losing a close game to Shawn Alexander to get bounced from the playoffs. That’s it. That’s the list.

  31. tyrus
    9:41 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    Couch was a system QB. Meaning he played great in a type of offensive style that relied on the quick outlet passes. Hal M. ran a spread offence in a conference at the time , dominated by the grind it out style of play. It actually took the other SEC teams time to adjust and defend what UK was doing. For the first and only time I remember, UK was on the cutting edge of football. Alas, football boils down to total overall athletic talent and signing even the top in-state talent has always been a struggle for UK. There’s your facts Skippy! Now you know the rest of the story.

  32. Robukpt
    9:45 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    Bonus: playing with yeremiah bell. Not really bc he was a year younger and hadn’t grown to his “you’ll call me sir now” size that has blown up runners on Sunday’s. But it’s still awesome to have been on the same team bc he is a good guy. Wish he’d hit that nfl size by the couch game, might have made a difference. Bonus points if you guess where it all went down.

  33. Smith
    9:53 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    #10 – A rookie on an EXPANSION team is what he was referring to. Please try to pay attention.

  34. gawdi
    9:57 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    Just because a team hasn’t won a super bowl doesn’t mean they are historically bad. That is one of the dumbest arguments I’ve ever heard. If the Colts hadn’t one a super bowl with Peyton, I wouldn’t have said his tenure with them was bad. They had a lot of great teams that just didn’t finish out with the crown. I’m glad they did end up getting him one, but had they not, I’d still call them great in the Manning era. Cleveland had some great teams in the 80’s and almost made it to the super bowl several times. They dominated the pro football before the super bowl started. They have a great history. Just not since 1999

  35. the Big Dog
    9:59 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    #22- The new Browns have made it to the playoffs once as a wildcard in 2002. The old Browns won the division in 1971 and lost to the undefeated Dolphins as a wildcard in 1972. Blanton Collier (former UK coach) was the Browns coach in 1964 when they won the NFL championship.
    The Browns had some good teams with Bernie Kosar in the late ’80s. The new Browns have struggled to stsy competitive despite having good draft picks. Tim Couch got killed by their o-line.

  36. Jim
    10:28 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    As a Bengal ticket holder (make no comments), I attended all the games Tim played in Cincinnati. It wasn’t just the o-line. His receivers were just awful. Play after play they’d send 3-4 receivers out in patterns and the Bengal defense blanketed them like this year’s UK basketball team. This is the Bengals I am talking about, not the Steelers or the Ravens. If a defender made a mistake, Tim would quickly get the ball to the receiver. It’s a shame that while some of the talking heads ridicule Couch’s performance, they never mention the incompetence of the Browns’ management.

  37. catdaddyd
    10:43 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    All I remember is when Couch held his presser to announce he was turning pro. Telling us how lucky we were to have him play at UK, when he could have went to TENN and won a natonal title. What a prick. Dusty Bonner put up numbers the very next year in that system.

  38. tyson
    10:52 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    Tim Couch was a jerk that flourished under Hal Mumme, the 5 yard screen pass, and undersized and fast receivers that could slip tackles. Couch would never have flourished in the NFL, no matter what team he was on.

  39. jaws2
    11:06 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    #10 you’re so far off base it’s comical! Bengals and Dalton compared to a Brown expansion team and Couch with NO offensive line? Really? You can’t be serious. If you are, you know NOTHING about pro football. The offense all starts up front.

  40. thenamerobdigity
    11:22 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    Well all that and ……… HGH…………

  41. UKisgr8
    11:53 pm April 25, 2012 Permalink

    All of you that say Tim Couch had no arm strength have lost your minds. Couch had a cannon. He was also a very important recruit that got the ball rolling on some pretty decent teams after the Curry debacle. Just because Hals offense featured a lot of WR screens does not mean he didn’t have an arm. And Dusty Bonner couldnt hold a candle to the skills Couch had. Thats why Couch went #1 in the NFL draft and Bonner finished his career at Indiana School for Nuns or wherever he ended up.

  42. Couch was UKs greatest
    12:54 am April 26, 2012 Permalink

    #37&38 You ate stupid and it shows.We were lucky Couch went to Uk.Curry was our coach and doing nothing when Couch came here over Tenn. He was the #1 hs QB and took a Leslie CO. With little else deep in the playoffs.On hind site he should have went to Tenn.he would have learned behind Manning and went to a better Pro team. UK messed up all the momentum he gained for them anyway.He still to this day has shoulder problems from the beating he took in Cleveland. Mummy never had the same success after he left.

  43. Couch was UKs greatest
    1:01 am April 26, 2012 Permalink

    #38 How do you know Couch was a jerk.Ive known him since high school and he’s a very good person. If Mumme and Bassett hadn’t screwed up he had UK relavent in football He took them to a new years day bowl game what have you done other than shoot your mouth off and make yourself look stupid

  44. HeshimuEvans'2ndGradeTeacher
    7:38 am April 26, 2012 Permalink

    Tim Couch had a limp arm and that’s why he sucked in the NFL. He had a strong enough arm to throw a 20 yd out, but it took the ball 17 seconds to get there. Quit trying to blame the franchise, Tim! You sucked, just admit it.

  45. BrownsFan
    8:44 am April 26, 2012 Permalink

    Prior to the advent of the Superbowl in 1967, and specifically in the 50’s, the Browns were one of the most dominant teams in the NFL. The Browns are tied in 3rd place with the New York Giants for the most Championship wins in NFL history only behind the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.

    They’re hardly “one of the most historically bad franchises in the NFL.”

  46. lldjr
    9:09 am April 26, 2012 Permalink

    The buckle shoes doomed him…

  47. minton
    9:28 am April 26, 2012 Permalink

    #44, weak arm?!? weak arm?!? that’s a laugh. he had a very strong arm. he had no offensive line to protect him, plain and simple.

  48. Ronnie
    2:12 pm April 26, 2012 Permalink

    # 24 you got it correct —- right on the money

  49. Seriously, No 1
    3:15 pm April 26, 2012 Permalink

    No offense to Tim Couch, but the fact that the modern version of Cleveland took a player from UK with the first overall pick tells you all you need to know about that franchise.

  50. Set a Couch on FiYa!!
    9:25 pm April 26, 2012 Permalink

    Next time they win a big ‘un, I’m a settin’ a Couch on FiYa!!