Following the Cleveland Browns 28-14 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, the battle for the starting quarterback job is back to a two man competition between Johnny Manziel and Josh McCown. Manziel tossed two touchdown passes in the win on Sunday. McCown the opening day starter was knocked out of the game after the first offensive series with a concussion and has not been cleared of the NFL’s protocol on concussions.
If McCown is cleared this week, will he get his job back or will head coach Mike Pettine stick with Manziel? It’s a decision the Browns are not ready to make as of Monday, but it will be discussed throughout the week.
“We are going to put it all on the table and talk about it. We will see where it takes us,” Pettine said. “As I already mentioned before, to me, it is a positive conversation because you have a young quarterback that has been through a lot that has gone out and led his team to a win. We were all able to enjoy it last night. I am proud of him because if you had said back earlier in the offseason that this was going to happen I think a lot of people would have said there is a pretty slim chance. Very proud of him and the rest of the guys for putting it together and winning the home opener.”
McCown was signed this season to be a stop gap at the quarterback position and give Manziel more time to learn from the sidelines. Of course in the NFL, the backup quarterback is always just one play away from being the starter. The Browns have already reached that point when McCown suffered the concussion against the New York Jets.
The decision will be very difficult because some coaches believe that a player should not lose his starting job because of an injury. On the other hand, the Browns need to see what they have in Manziel. If Manziel keeps the job and performs well, the Browns can focus on other positions early in next year’s NFL draft. If Manziel struggles, the Browns will likely have to use a high draft pick on a quarterback again. Another factor is McCown’s age. McCown is 36-years old. The Browns signed McCown to a three year deal this offseason. If you are a Browns fan, do you really want your starting quarterback a couple of years from now be 38-years old?
No matter, who gets the start this Sunday against the Oakland Raiders at FirstEnergy Stadium, Manziel’s performance this season has pleased his head coach and made the rest of the NFL take notice at the growth Manziel has made since last season.
“Just overall quarterback play, just his presence. Hearing the play, being assertive, calling it in the huddle, making sure everybody was lined up right,” Pettine said. “Being good with his cadence, knowing ‘Hey, I have to motion here. I have to move a guy.’ Coming off on the sideline being very interactive. Going through the still prints. Quarterback play from A to Z I think he’s improved in all areas in our mind and I think that’s a function of two things: his willingness, his commitment to it and having (Quarterbacks coach) Kevin (O’Connell) and Flip (Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) I think are two of the best in the business and they do a great job interacting with the quarterbacks and holding them accountable.
The Browns hope to hear an update on McCown from the league on Wednesday when they return to practice to begin preparing to face Oakland this Sunday.