Jun 16, 2015; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) and Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) during minicamp at the Cleveland Browns practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Trust us, we wanted to skip what is sure to be an exhausting topic this summer, but we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel.
So let’s get one thing out of the way up front: McCown is the starting quarterback – for now.
“I think Josh is playing at a high level right now. I think Josh is doing the things we want him to do,” DeFilippo said. “There’s a long time until we kick off against the Jets. There are four preseason games to play. Last year, I was at a place where we were sold on a starter, too, and then a rookie came in and outplayed him in the preseason. I think (Mike Pettine) said today there are 86 days or something like that until we kick off against the Jets. Eighty-six days in the NFL world is an eternity. For right now, if we were lining up against the Jets tomorrow, which we’re not, I wouldn’t see that changing.”
We all know that unless McCown gets injured during training camp or in a preseason friendly, he’s lining up behind Alex Mack 86 days from now against the Jets. So do we really need to go on? We do? OK, so what is McCown doing right so far?
“I’ve been very, very impressed with Josh. Josh and I talk about it all the time: He’s a better quarterback now than he was in 2007,” DeFilippo said. “I haven’t seen anything from an arm strength standpoint, from an athletic standpoint to tell me that his game has declined at all. He is much better in situational football, a much smarter quarterback than he was in 2007. Obviously, the intangibles with Josh are as good as any quarterback in the league in terms of his leadership, in terms of being a good person. All of those things that you’re looking for in a starting quarterback, Josh McCown has.”
But Manziel has done something positive so far, right coach?
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“First off, I think he’s improved on his pocket awareness. I saw him the other day for the first time get to his third progression, which was fantastic,” DeFilippo said. “We were throwing a post and a corner out of the front side and we had a basic cross, which is a 12-yard in-cut coming from the backside. That’s hard to do for a young quarterback, to work from the right side of the field all the way back coming into his vision. You see him reset his feet and getting back to second and third progressions, which is something I didn’t see much of him last season or when he was in college.
“The other thing that Johnny has done a much better job of is his huddle management. He’s getting the play out with confidence. We do have some long play calls. That’s just the nature of NFL play calls. You are going to have some long play calls. He’s gone in there and he’s been like a veteran spitting it out. We’ve had very, very few issues pre-snap with him in terms of delay of games, forgetting motions, not sending a shift we wanted, motion landmarks. Again, the big picture thinking with Johnny, he’s improved a great deal. Has he made every through as strike point accurate as we want? No, and he knows that. He needs to be a little bit more strike point accurate than he has been. That will come. You want to work outside in with these guys. You want to work the big picture and then you can really hone in on what they need to do from the other parts of playing quarterback.”
So there you have it: McCown may not be the quarterback we want, but he could be the quarterback we need. And Manziel is mastering the art of going through his progressions.
There is still a lot of work for the Browns to accomplish, but at least the opening chapter of the 2015 NFL season has been written.
Only 86 more days for the coaches and players to write out the rest of the novel.
What impressed you the most about the Browns during minicamp?