The Browns coaches must fucking despise Johnny Manziel.
Josh McCown has been cleared to play after his Week 1 concussion, and the Browns immediately announced him as the starter for Sunday against the Raiders. It’s surprising, not because Manziel is good—he’s looked frisky in essentially two full games, but we don’t know if he’s good, and we know McCown sucks.
McCown left the season open on the final play of the first offensive drive, concussed while helicoptering into the end zone. Since then, Manziel is 21-of-39 for 354 yards, throwing for three touchdowns while getting picked off once and fumbling twice. He’s shown flashes of promise, especially his long-distance connections with Travis Benjamin. He’s also made plenty of mistakes. It’s exactly what you’d expect to see from a young, unproven quarterback who could stand to benefit from game experience. Most franchises, when the veteran goes down and the novice steps in, award the job to the starter-apparent until he loses it. And Manziel hasn’t done anything to warrant being benched, other than, I guess, not being Josh McCown.
But this was the Browns’ plan all along. From Day 1 of McCown’s absence, the team insisted that the starting job would be his when healthy. They made the final decision even before McCown passed his concussion protocol, holding a “what-if” meeting on Monday. The Browns love McCown, for reasons that defy easy explanation:
(That’s so, so sad. The “simply” makes it.)
Mike Pettine says McCown gives the Browns the best chance to win games, and who the hell knows if that’s true, but I can’t see the potential downside to letting Manziel figure things out on the field, and only sending him back to the bench if and when he begins to struggle. But then, I can’t see why the Browns do a lot of things they do.