On Tuesday, Coach Mike Pettine of the lowly Cleveland Browns, (2-8), who have lost five games in a row, announced that Johnny Manziel will start at quarterback the rest of the season.
Manziel did not win the position because of the incompetence of his predecessor. Josh McCown had thrown for 1,897 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions in his seven games this season, but suffered a rib injury that allowed Manziel to replace him on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, where Manziel threw for 372 yards and completed 73 percent of his passes as the Browns got creamed, 30-9. In Manziel’s three starts, Manziel has thrown for 933 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions.
Pettine stated, “He took a big step forward in a lot of the small details of quarterback play. It’s as simple as that for us, just to continue to get better. He did some good things but there’s some things that can be improved upon. Each week presents a new challenge, and he has to be able to react to how a defense is playing him and be able to play within a game plan, the structure of it and stay tight to that.” He added, “The film showed it even more; he showed significant progress.”
Manziel enthused: “It’s a great opportunity for me. I was a little caught off-guard, just watching film this morning and Coach Pettine kind of came in and grabbed me. I was very excited.”
McCown generously offered to “do everything I can to help him to play the best ball he can to help us win football games.”
Manziel has had a troubled history since turning pro; he spent 70 days in a rehab facility after his rookie season. The NFL confirmed that the league will not punish the quarterback for an alcohol-related domestic dispute that did not result in arrest earlier this season.
The Browns enjoy a bye this week; they finish the season with home games against the Ravens, Bengals and 49ers, then two road games against the Seahawks and Chiefs, then a final home game versus the Steelers. The Browns have not had a winning season since 2007; they had six consecutive seasons with 10 or more losses before they went 7-9 last year.