Cleveland Browns: 4 things to do during the bye week
By Thomas Moore
Nov 15, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) runs the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 30-9. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
If Johnny Manziel did nothing else on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, his performance at least should have cemented the idea into everyone’s heads that it hasn’t been the quarterback position that is holding back the Browns.
Manziel had, without question, his best NFL game while throwing for 372 yards and completing 73 percent of his passes, leading Pro Football Focus to give the highest grade of any Browns’ player on Sunday:
"Despite his fumble and interception, Johnny Manziel played the best game of his career. The fact that Manziel attempted 13 passes outside the right numbers compared to nine outside the left numbers shows the amount of times Cleveland rolled him out of the pocket, providing him easier reads; however, he was able to take advantage of the situation and find open receivers constantly. While Manziel still held onto the ball too long and struggled a bit under pressure, where he graded out at -0.2 compared to +2.4 from a clean pocket, he made a significant step forward in this game."
“You’re just proud of the kid and happy for him and just wish we had better results from a team standpoint because, pardon my (wording), he played his ass off.” – Mike Pettine on Johnny Manziel
Despite Manziel looking competent, the fact remains that he once again struggled to get the Browns into the end zone. Remember how we mentioned that the Browns have only scored 39 points over the past three games? Well, Manziel has been the starter for two of those and put up 10 points against the Cincinnati Bengals and nine points against the Steelers.
Playing with the same cast of players, Josh McCown is averaging 21.5 points per game, so there is still work to be done before we announce that Manziel is the answer.
Having said that, there is simply no reason to turn back to McCown at this point. Even if McCown gives the Browns the best chance to win, the difference at this point is negligible and pulling out an extra win, maybe, doesn’t really help this team going forward.
While the public relations angle should never be a factor, the reality is that with three consecutive home games coming up, the thought of the Browns trotting out McCown in front of the home fans is a painful one.
If the Browns do make the switch, Manziel has to know that, barring an injury, he is the quarterback for the rest of the season. Just like last year with Brian Hoyer, making the switch to the backup quarterback is as much about when as it is if, and nothing good ever comes from bouncing your quarterbacks in and out of the lineup.
Next: Mike Pettine should take control of the defense