With Johnny Manziel under center, the Cleveland Browns lost on Thursday Night Football to the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals, 31-10.
While Manziel showed splashes of promise, particularly in the first half, head coach Mike Pettine remains noncommittal about him starting in the next game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“No, I can’t (say he’ll play the next game),” Pettine said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “When we get in and get back from this time off, we’ll assess what pool of players are available and go ahead and make those decisions from there. This will be a good time to step away and reassess where we are moving forward.”
Manziel filled in for Josh McCown who missed Thursday’s game due to a rib injury. Although McCown is expected to be healthy enough to play in Week 10 given the mediocre critique Pettine gave Manziel after his performance against the Bengals.
“It was just inconsistent. He did some good things, but in the second half, especially after we fell behind, he was just trying to make too many big plays instead of just taking completions.”
Manziel finished the evening completing only 15 of 33 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown, which was scored in the first half. While he didn’t exactly shine, he also didn’t make any blaring mistakes or turn the ball over, which is commendable.
With the Browns’ fate sealed as they sit six games behind the Cincinnati in the AFC North with a lowly 2-7 record, it would make sense to keep starting Manziel. He needs to gain more experience, and the team needs to see what he can do for a longer period of time. Cleveland’s future definitely isn’t reliant on a 36-year old quarterback, and the team did select Manziel for a reason, we would like to believe.
Manziel is never going to evolve into a quality starter if only given minimal opportunities. At this point after seven starts, McCown has only managed one win. So, why not get the youngster out there and let him finish off the year?
While it seems the Browns have nothing to lose at this point in the season if the took a gamble with Manziel, it appears Pettine is still pumping the brakes. This is probably not a good move for his career, but then again, perhaps he never had a chance to begin with.