Mike Pettine ‘not prepared’ to name Johnny Manziel starter for Browns

By Jesse Reed

Johnny Manziel should be the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns the rest of the way in 2015, but head coach Mike Pettine still isn’t convinced.

Speaking to Cleveland beat writers Monday following Cleveland’s 30-9 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pettine said he is ‘not prepared’ to name Manziel the starter, though he did have some nice things to say about the second-year quarterback.

“I’m not prepared to say [Manziel is the starter], but that’s a conversation that certainly will be had,” Pettine said, per Nate Ulrich of ohio.com. “He showed significant progress. …Kind of given what he’s gone through, you’re just proud of the kid and happy for him. I just wish we had a better result from a team standpoint because he played his ass off.”

Pettine’s second point about wishing the team played better is key. Manziel wasn’t the problem Sunday against Pittsburgh. In fact, if not for his outstanding efforts the game would have been even more out of hand.

Manziel finished the game with 372 passing yards and a touchdown, despite being hammered by Pittsburgh’s defense all game long. He did throw an interception but was sharp, completing 33-of-45 passes (73.3 percent).

The Browns just aren’t good enough to win many games this year, regardless of whether Manziel plays or if it’s Josh McCown behind center. While McCown has been solid at times this year, he isn’t the kind of quarterback who is going to lead Cleveland to the promised land. If any player exists on this roster, it’s Manziel, but that’s something the organization still needs to find out about.

When Pettine named McCown the starter he said he was choosing the quarterback who gave the team the “best chance to win.”

When asked if this was still the case (Manziel is 1-2 this year as a starter and McCown is 1-6), Pettine punted.

“We haven’t discussed it yet,” he replied. “Probably the next time I sit in front of you I’ll be able to answer that.”

There shouldn’t need to be a conversation about who should start the rest of the way.

The answer is not debatable — Manziel should start. He’s the only guy who might have a future, and given the fact the Browns have already lost any chance of making a playoff run he needs to get as much experience as he can so the season isn’t a complete waste. The fact that Pettine has stubbornly stuck with McCown, despite the veteran’s poor record as the starter could end up costing him his own job at the end of the year.

Cleveland has a week off on a bye to sort through this mess. Unless the franchise wants its fans tuning out the rest of the year, Manziel will be the starter when the Browns host the Baltimore Ravens in Week 12.