Mike Pettine: Starting job is still Josh McCown’s when healthy

By David Kenyon

The Cleveland Browns circus continues. Despite the season being lost head coach Mike Pettine is sticking with Josh McCown instead of Johnny Manziel.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, McCown will retain the starting quarterback job over Johnny Manziel if he’s healthy to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

There’s two basic ways to look at the Browns disaster, but it all starts with basic background.

Cleveland is 2-7 and soundly out of the playoff discussion. McCown seems to have better control of the offense, yet the Browns have a former first-round pick who they haven’t provided a long-term chance to start.

Those are the indisputable facts. The rest is opinion.

Pettine believes McCown gives the Browns a better chance to win. He even set a single-game franchise record with 457 passing yards earlier this season. The 36-year-old is easily the more proven commodity.

On the other hand, Pettine appears to have an issue with Manziel—who has the front office’s support since it drafted him anyway. Perhaps the coach knows something more than the team has divulged, but either way, he clearly doesn’t trust the dual-threat quarterback.

At some point, the franchise needs to figure out if Manziel is capable of being the No. 1 guy. However, it won’t happen with week-to-week spot-starts. Cleveland must commit to him in the short-term to decide if he’s a long-term option. Let Manziel start the rest of the 2015 season, because it’s not like the playoffs are happening.

What if he fails, some may ask. Theoretically, that’s just as good as Manziel succeeding. It gives the Browns a reason to draft another quarterback or to say, “See! Johnny can do it!”

Pettine wants to keep his job, so he needs wins. McCown is probably the better option in that regard. But would an extra win or two with McCown allow Pettine to cross the threshold of necessary victories? Surely Pettine isn’t more safe with a 4-12 McCown than a 3-13 Manziel.

Cleveland is a mess. Figure out if Manziel can clean it up. If he can’t, the Browns can find a new mop for 2016.