Why Browns should give Johnny Manziel a shot
While Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine is singing the praises of his “low-mileage veteran quarterback,” it has surprisingly become easy to overlook the fact that the Browns have a 2014 first-round pick on the bench whom they shouldn’t be giving up on just yet.
Johnny Manziel’s rookie season was disappointing in every conceivable manner, but it would be short-sighted to throw him away as a player simply because of one bad game. Manziel joined a long list of rookie quarterbacks who struggled in early starts, but there are plenty of examples of QBs on that list who went on to turn things around.
Fellow rookie Teddy Bridgewater finished 2014 as well as any quarterback in the NFL, but subpar displays against Detroit and Buffalo (league-worst 62.9 PFF QB rating in those two weeks) were cause for early concern. Looking further back, Matt Ryan posted a PFF QB rating of 49.8 in his second career start, topping only JaMarcus Russell in that statistic for Week 2 of the 2008 season.
The fact that Manziel struggled early is by no means a guarantee of future success (Blaine Gabbert got off to a poor start and never improved), but it does show that it’s too early to dismiss his chances of becoming a quality NFL starter.
That is particularly the case for the Browns. It’s true that he has “plenty of gas in the tank” from not having played a ton in his career compared to your average 36-year old NFL quarterback, but it’s far more likely that the Browns will be getting the McCown who struggled for the Bucs last season than the McCown who excelled for the Bears in 2013. His performance against pressure that season for Chicago proved completely unrepeatable, and even though the Browns have a much better offensive line than the Bucs did in 2014, Cleveland shouldn’t expect much out of McCown this season.
If this proves to be the case, there’s no reason not to give Manziel a chance to rebound in his second pro season.