It wouldn’t be a Cleveland Browns season without a potential quarterback controversy. Following the Browns 28-14 victory against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, fans were curious as to whether head coach Mike Pettine would name Johnny Manziel the starter moving forward after the second year player’s good performance. Pettine didn’t name Manziel the starter but he wasn’t short of praising Manziel. But Coach Pettine said he wouldn’t name the starter just yet due to Josh McCown still in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Pettine said he’d meet with offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and quarterback coach Kevin O’Connell Monday night and then would meet with the quarterbacks on Tuesday before making a decision.
I haven’t been a huge Johnny Manziel supporter ever since the Browns drafted him in the first round in the 2014 NFL Draft. I was a huge proponent of the Browns moving on from Manziel after struggling both on and off the field last season and the beginning of the offseason when Manziel checked himself into a rehab facility. But Manziel has made huge strides not only off the field but on the field based on his performance the first two weeks of the season. Granted he’s fumbled 4 times and thrown one interception, but he’s making an effort to win within the pocket, something he didn’t do in his limited action last season. He’s keeping his eyes downfield and reading his progressions instead of taking off to scramble if his first option is covered. And he’s found his play making wide receiver in Travis Benjamin. In his career, he’s 7-9 for 213 yards and three touchdowns when throwing to Benjamin including two on Sunday.
I know Josh McCown didn’t technically lose his starting job, due to him suffering a concussion last week versus the New York Jets, but I see no reason in returning to him as starting quarterback of the Browns. I know Coach Pettine will say Josh gives the team “the best chance to win.” He was brought in to mentor Manziel and be the “bridge” veteran quarterback until Manziel was ready. He can continue to teach and help Manziel prepare every week and will stay ready to play if Manziel were to get injured. The only way Manziel can continue to fully learn and develop is by being on the field and be the starting quarterback and getting all the first team reps in practice. If Manziel struggles, then the Browns can look for their new franchise quarterback with a top draft choice in next year’s NFL Draft. But if Manziel continues to improve like he’s done seven quarters into the 2015 season, the Browns may have finally found that franchise quarterback they so desperately need.