Johnny Manziel’s time as starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns has come to an end for now.
The Browns announced on Wednesday that original starting quarterback Josh McCown has passed concussion protocol and will be the starter in Week 3.
Manziel took over for McCown in Week 1 when McCown was tackled in the end zone and left with a concussion. Manziel had an OK first game, throwing for 13-24 for 182 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in a loss to the Jets.
However, Manziel’s second game flashed moments where he looked capable of being the full-time starter for the Browns. Manziel steadied the Browns offense with 8-15 passing, 172 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions in his first career win as the Browns beat the Titans 28-14.
He showed chemistry with receiver Travis Benjamin, hitting him for a 60-yard touchdown in the first quarter:
- Via NFL.com
Later, Manziel used his trademark speed, evaded oncoming defenders, and hit Benjamin for another 50-yard touchdown:
- Via NFL.com
While NFL.com’s Kevin Patra reported before Week 2 that Manziel was not competing for the starting job, he was merely filling in, after the game, Browns coach Mike Pettine admitted he was impressed with Manziel. Pettine told reporters that it was “a positive thing” that the Browns will have to have a conversation about who to start if McCown is healthy:
“That’s a good thing. That’s a positive thing. Johnny’s made a lot of progress in the right direction. Still a lot of things to get cleaned up, but we certainly feel like the arrow’s up.”
“It’s a positive conversation because you have a young quarterback that’s been through a lot, that has gone out and led his team to a win… I’m proud of him because if you had said back early in the offseason if this was going to happen, I think a lot of people would have said, ‘Pretty slim chance.’ I’m very proud of him and the rest of the guys for putting it together and winning the home opener.”
He added, “Until Josh is cleared, there’s not much thought process there just because [Manziel] is the starter right now with the fact that Josh is out. But we’ll have the ‘what-if’ discussion [Monday night], and we’ll see where that takes us.”
It’s not surprising that the Browns had that conversation and decided on McCown, but it is disappointing that they’re pulling the plug on Manziel this quickly. Coming off the best game of his career and his only win, Manziel has looked impressive for, essentially, a rookie. He’s only had three starts in his career, and the most recent one was his best.
Most coaches like to play it safe and prefer a veteran quarterback. While McCown looked impressive in the Browns’ opening drive in Week 1 before his concussion, he’s a known quantity. Meanwhile, Manziel still has room for growth, and offers, likely, a higher upside as he continues to grow.