Josh McCown will “likely” be the Browns’ Week 1 starter. Ideally, he’s a placeholder for a year or two to mentor Johnny Manziel, who could take over when the Browns are ready to challenge. But head coach Mike Pettine sounds bullish on McCown’s longer-term prospects, saying he combines the experience of a veteran with the body of a man much younger than his 36 years.
“He’s so young if you look at his game logs,” Pettine said. “That’s why I made the joke the other day. He’s like that car that has low mileage, kept in the garage and driven to church on Sundays by a little old lady. He’s got a lot left.”
Well, sure, but a lot of what? Tautologically implicit in Pettine’s comment that McCown hasn’t played a lot in the NFL is the fact that, you know, he hasn’t played a lot in the NFL. McCown has made 49 starts in 12 seasons, 16 of those in the last two years. Before the Bears handed him the reins in 2013, teams had decided McCown was a worse option than, at times, Jake Plummer, Jeff Blake, Shaun King, Kurt Warner, Jon Kitna, Drew Stanton, Daunte Culpepper, Jake Delhomme, Matt Moore, Jay Cutler, Caleb Hanie, and Jason Campbell.
It’s entirely possible that McCown’s 2013 is repeatable—just look to Kurt Warner for proof that quarterbacks can be widely misjudged before breaking through well into their careers. But it seems at least a little more likely that McCown’s 2002-2012 and 2014 are the “real” McCown, and 2013 the outlier.
McCown is a bridge quarterback at best, though he’s being paid pretty well for it, but it seemed pretty curious that Pettine would be pumping the tires of a guy in whom you pretty much know what you’ve got, instead of a hyped sophomore whose ceiling isn’t remotely certain. And what do you know: it was announced today that Johnny Manziel is about to start getting some first-team reps. Maybe the Browns will play this one right after all. Or maybe they’ll spend the year consumed by a quarterback controversy involving two bad quarterbacks.