Johnny Manziel will get another chance, after all.
Despite an obvious hesitation from head coach Mike Pettine, who declined to tell reporters who his starter would be on Friday and who seemed to prefer a healthy Josh McCown, Manziel will take the field against the division-rival Steelers. This, from NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, citing a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking.
Manziel made his second start of the season last Thursday against the Cincinnati Bengals, going 15-of-33 (45.45 percent) for 168 yards and a touchdown. Per usual, his effectiveness declined sharply once his ability to navigate the pocket was taken away.
He is 1-1 this season, having run-and-gunned his way through a budding Titans defense during a 28-14 win Week 2, though even then his exploits were met with some skepticism. Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo joked that sometimes, coaching is overrated.
The prevailing belief around the NFL is that the Browns are already 2-7 and they do not have a fair enough sample size to truly evaluate Manziel. Pettine, though, seems to be in a different school of thought. His obvious preference would be to finish the season 9-7 — or as close as he can possibly get to it — and carry some momentum into 2016.
If Manziel offers the best opportunity to do so, he’s yet to show it. There are moments of magic, encapsulating the same high-flying player the nation fell in love with at Texas A&M, but there are also some serious questions of functionality.
Just this week, the Browns quarterback talked about his height as a major factor in why he scrambles. Pettine professed a desire to see Manziel throw the ball quicker.
“I’m not going to be able to sit there like some of these taller quarterbacks in the league and just be able to see everything happen as the play is on,” he said, via ESPN.com. “There’s going to be times where I’m not going to be able to see something. I’m going to have to make a faith throw knowing, ‘Hey, it’s Cover 3 and this guy is here and this guy went there with where this person is.’
“As I continue to watch film and I continue to play in these games, there’s going to be times where I’m gonna not be able to see everything, like everyone else as clear as day. I think I’m getting better at it, but I’m nowhere near perfect, that’s for sure.”