The case for starting Johnny Manziel continues to grow
Josh McCown remains entrenched as the starting quarterback in Cleveland, as the Browns continue to not show any hint of a competition for the starting gig. Thursday night was an uninspiring performance by McCown (he had to undergo X-rays on his finger, which reportedly came back negative), as he faced one of the better defenses in the league in the Bills. He completed just one pass targeted beyond the first-down marker, had a couple of passes intercepted, and finished with a 44.6 QB rating.
On the flip side, it wasn’t a perfect night for backup Johnny Manziel, either. He missed on an easy check-down and forced a couple of other passes. Most of his completions came on throws short of the markers. But he did hit on a couple of deep throws, including his 21-yard touchdown pass to Shane Wynn. Naturally, Manziel was more able to escape pressure and extend plays with his feet — an area that was a particular weakness for McCown last year with the Bucs. McCown ranked 36th out of 37 quarterbacks with a -10.2 pass grade under pressure.
The Browns understandably do not want to rush Manziel onto the field before he is ready, and he may not have shown enough to be the starter at this point. However, his upside is still higher than McCown’s, and if last year is any indication, their floors aren’t too dissimilar. Manziel’s performance this preseason has improved thus far over last year. Coupled with McCown’s preseason, there is a case for a legitimate competition for the starting job in Cleveland.