What a difference a week makes for the Cleveland Browns and quarterback Johnny Manziel. Only in Cleveland can you be named the starting quarterback and then demoted to third string and not play a game in between.
Tuesday afternoon, head coach Mike Pettine made the decision to strip Manziel of the starting quarterback job just seven days after handing the reigns of the offense to the 2014 first round draft pick. The decision was made after seeing a video posted by TMZ sports of Manziel partying in Austin, Texas last Thursday and Friday during the teams bye week. Before the five days off for the bye week, Manziel told reporters he won’t be a distraction to the organization during the teams weekend off. The video and a visit to Columbus for last Saturday’s Ohio State game against Michigan State prove otherwise.
During the Browns first media availability following the bye week, Pettine was asked if he would punish Manziel for the video. It was a decision that was still being discussed.
“Seen it. Still in the process of gathering information,” Pettine said. “Think we’ll try to get all parties involved together this afternoon, and we’ll move forward from there.”
Following those comments in front of members of the Cleveland media, a final decision was made just a couple of hours later. At around 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, Pettine released the following statement via the Browns public relations staff in regards to Manziel’s future.
“Josh McCown will be the starting quarterback on Monday night against the Ravens. I informed the quarterbacks of that decision after I sat down and spoke with Johnny, Flip (John DeFilippo) and Kevin (O’Connell) after practice today. Johnny will be the third quarterback. I’ve spoken to Ray (Farmer) and Jimmy (Haslam) to inform them of my decision, and they are in full support.
Everyone in this organization wants what is best for Johnny just like we do for every player in our locker room. I’m especially disappointed in his actions and behavior because he has been working very hard. The improvements from last year to this year have been tremendous but he still has to consistently demonstrate that he has gained a good understanding of what it takes to be successful at the quarterback position on this level. It goes well beyond the field. We are going to continue to support him in every way possible, but at this point, we’ve decided it’s best to go with Josh as the starter going forward.”
With Manziel being demoted to third string quarterback, there is the possibility that he could be inactive for the Browns Monday night game against the division rival Baltimore Ravens. Austin Davis will be elevated to the back up quarterback role behind McCown.
“I think, for a young player. I absolutely could empathize with him. That’s hard to swallow, for sure,” McCown said. “We’ll work through it, if that’s the case. Like I said, I’m behind the guy 100 percent and want nothing but the best for him. Off the field first and even on the field, I want him to be productive. I feel like we’ve gained some ground. We may not be there yet, but we’ve gained some ground. I definitely could empathize with him going through this situation. I’ve been there as a young player and getting excited about the opportunity to play. We’ll see what happens but like I said I’ll be there supporting him 100 percent.”
It’s going to be interesting to see whether the Johnny Manziel era in Cleveland is over or will he get one last chance. If one more opportunity comes his way, will it happen sometime in these final six games or could his NFL dreams be slammed shut thanks to a being a guy who just doesn’t want to grow up.