Johnny Manziel to start Week 2 but future remains uncertain
On Thursday, Cleveland Browns beat reporter Kevin Jones of ClevelandBrowns.com stopped by the Pro Football Focus show hosted by Mike Clay on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio (10 a.m. ET weekdays – Sirius 210 & XM 87). Jones talked about the quarterback situation, the future of the backfield, and more. You can follow Jones on Twitter @Mr_KevinJones.
Stash Robert Turbin Now
The Browns backfield in Week 1 looked a lot different than it did in 2014 when Terrance West was still on the team. Starter Isaiah Crowell saw 35 snaps, rookie Duke Johnson saw 31 and Shaun Draughn chipped in with six. The Browns acquired Robert Turbin late in the offseason, and although he is currently rehabbing an injury, he is expect back soon. How will the backfield look when Turbin returns?
“I have a prediction that Turbin will earn the starting role,” Jones said. “Crowell has been giving a golden opportunity but as Pettine said, he has to break more tackles. He can’t keep going down on first contact. It’s still too early to tell on Duke Johnson’s role. Maybe 10 touches a game. But if the running game continues to struggle, on October 3rd when Turbin is targeting a return, I can see Turbin carrying the torch for this team. This guy is strong, sturdy and he has a good attitude. He wants to be a leader and this is a guy the Browns really like.”
Turbin averaged 4.2 yards per carry with 162-of-310 rushing yards coming after contact in 2014. In 2013, 166-of-264 rushing yards came after contact. Turbin is built for an every down role at 225 pounds and he plays with great pad level and power. On the Browns, Turbin will inherit a much more effective offensive line than he ever ran behind with the Seahawks. Turbin has experience and success in pass protection and on third downs. He is definitely someone worth stashing at the end of your bench in 12-team leagues right now.
Who starts this Sunday and going forward at QB?
“McCown will take that concussion test and even if he doesn’t pass and practice, he’ll take it again Saturday and Sunday. McCown gives the Browns the best chance to win. I still think it will be him.”
It was revealed after Jones’ interview that McCown did not pass the test. Manziel has been named the starter for this week, but McCown will likely inherit the role again when healthy. How long is the leash before McCown is pulled from the starting role?
“It’s not long. But if you saw last week, McCown took them on a 17-play, 90-yard opening drive. This is a check down offense with McCown, but it’s going to limit mistakes and keep the chains moving. With Johnny it was one up, and mostly downs with him. He hasn’t been able to respond to adversity in an NFL game. If Josh isn’t healthy, the Browns are prepared to use Johnny if they have to.”
Manziel will get another opportunity this weekend, but can he be a starter in the NFL for a sustained period of time?
“He has physical traits. He has a rocket arm to throw people open. He has elusiveness. He needs to get his game up to play a similar style to Russell Wilson. But physically he’s limited by his height. He can’t see over his linemen and down the field. It was hard to tell when you drafted him. Right now, he looks like Doug Flutie out there in a sense.”
When Jones compared Manziel to Flutie, it was in reference to his height. There were questions entering the NFL about Manziel’s ability to work within the pocket, but as Jones mentioned, it was difficult to predict his transition. With a larger sample size, we will get a much clearer picture.
What about Dwayne Bowe?
The Browns curiously signed free agent Dwayne Bowe to a two-year, $12.5 million contract this offseason. After missing most of the offseason with injury, Bowe finally looks poised to make a return. Should we expect him to emerge as the Browns No. 1 wide receiver?
“The hamstring was a setback last week. There’s some speculation if he’s part of the plans on this offense because he missed so much time in training camp. But I think he’ll play Sunday and be a part of the offense. You almost have to — you’re paying him $9 million. I’ll say this, he beat Joe Haden several times in training camp. When he practiced a little bit, he was successful. The Browns need him.”
Bowe has showed very little on the field in recent seasons, and it would be a surprise to see him tap back into the receiver who once posted a double-digit touchdown season.
Karlos Dansby is on the injury report this week. Is he going to suit up for Week 2?
“Karlos Dansby will do anything in his power to be on the football field. The coaches say he would play football for free. This foot injury, he hasn’t practiced, but he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t need to practice. If he doesn’t, it will be Chris Kirksey and Craig Robertson. Kirksey had 81 tackles as a rookie last season. They call him Karlos Dansby lite. Lean guy who can make a lot of tackles. This is a huge week for this Browns defense. Supposed to be the unit that carries the Browns.”
Get Kirksey on your IDP radar now. A favorite of the draftnik community last offseason, Kirksey was impressive in pass coverage during his rookie. With another year in the scheme, he is likely to make a bigger impact as run defender. If Dansby can’t suit up, Kirksey is worth starting as a flier against the Titans this week.
Dan Schneier is a staff writer at PFF Fantasy and he covers the NFC East beat for FOX Sports. You can find him on Twitter @DanSchneierNFL. You can also add him to your network on Google+ to find all of his past material.