Written by Joe Messineo at No Coast Bias
The Cleveland Browns used a first-round pick on Johnny Manziel in the 2014 NFL Draft because they thought that he was their future at the quarterback position. Since then, though, the Browns have not always shown a willingness to invest in their future QB. Manziel has made fairly limited starts thus far in his NFL career, and so far in 2015 the Browns have gone to war most often with QB Josh McCown, a competent but unspectacular starter.
Now, at long last, the Browns have declared Johnny Manziel their starter. The only question is: what took so long?
Future Promise and a Solid Resume
Johnny Manziel has always had promise – that’s why he was worthy of a first-round draft pick. But Manziel has also been fairly impressive on the field for the Browns in his limited chances. He’s been at least as impressive as some other rookie quarterbacks that NFL teams have started in recent years, and yet the Browns have looked reluctant to start him.
This year, Manziel has a completion percentage of 59.4 and a quarterback rating of 88.4. Those are behind McCown’s marks of 65% and 95.2, but they were arguably good enough to earn Manziel an audition earlier – after all, the Browns are in the midst of a lost season. At 7-2, they shouldn’t be worrying about this season anymore. They should be worrying about the next one, and the one after that. And for the future, giving Manziel reps as a starter is the strategy that makes the most sense.
The Browns managed to ignore Manziel’s strong stat line in his game against the Cincinnati Bengals (one of a few pre-season and regular-season appearances Manziel got before the team officially committed to him as the starter). Instead, coach Mike Pettine focused on the flaws in Manziel’s game: his occasional disregard for coaching instructions, his willingness to leave secure pockets, etc.
It was Manziel’s remarkable effort in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that (belatedly) convinced his coaches to name him the starter. It’s about time.
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