Cleveland Browns Would Make Mistake Going Back to Josh McCown

By Casey Drottar
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve already stated my personal opinion on who should start at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns next week and beyond. I felt that, after the team defeated the Tennessee Titans last Sunday, Johnny Manziel should be handed the reins. With a couple days to remove the gleam of the win causing a gut-check reaction, I find I’m still in the same boat.

I think Manziel should start this weekend against the Oakland Raiders. According to reports, the Browns apparently disagree.

Per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, if veteran Josh McCown clears NFL concussion protocol, Cleveland will likely tab him as Sunday’s starter. Though the team is happy with how Manziel has performed this year, common belief is it trusts McCown as providing the best chance to win.

Do I get the idea of the team wanting to put McCown back in despite Manziel winning Sunday? You could say so. At the same time, I also personally think doing so would be the wrong move to make.

First things first; as mentioned, if McCown was given the start against Oakland, I would understand why. The team designed its offense around him, and coaches and teammates alike have raved over and over about how much they love what they’ve seen from him. In the time before his ill-fated Week 1 end zone dive, McCown appeared to have a good handle on the team’s offense.

So, yes, there are plenty of reasons why starting McCown over Manziel makes sense. Regardless, it doesn’t change my mind that it would be a mistake to go this route.

Look at McCown’s career stat-line and tell me what he brings to the table that’s so game-changing. Is it his pedestrian touchdown/interception ratio of 61/59? Is it his inability to truly never be much more than a backup? Was it the eight-game stint with the Chicago Bears in 2013 where he threw 13 touchdowns and just one pick, something which looks like a glaring anomaly compared to the rest of his career?

I’m not trying to be cruel, just trying to see what the Browns view in McCown which would merit such loyalty to him. I know some veterans have been vocal in their support of the journeyman, but do they truly believe he has what it takes to end Cleveland’s playoff drought? If they do, I’d love to hear what it is that has them thinking this.

To be fair, I’m also not ready to anoint Manziel as the Browns’ savior. Yes, his touchdown passes last Sunday were thrilling to watch, especially considering how long it’s been since anyone has been able to pull off plays like this in Cleveland.

However, his fumbling problem can’t be ignored. He’s dropped the ball four times in two games, something he’s personally noted as an issue needing to be fixed. Manziel has also shown trouble when it comes to keeping the momentum rolling, as he significantly cooled down in the second half of each of his games this year.

In summary, I think Manziel should be in this Sunday and for as long as possible this year. At the same time, it isn’t because I think he’s been flawless this season. He’s made his fair share of mistakes, and still has plenty of room to grow,

No, I want Manziel to start because, for the first time in his young career, he showed progress. He made a step forward instead of a stumble backwards. He didn’t prove the Browns were correct in selecting him last year, but he sure hinted this could eventually be the case. This is way more than you could say about his short, disastrous performance last season.

Cleveland may believe Manziel still makes too many mistakes, and I get that. But, as coach Mike Pettine noted this week, the arrow is pointing up for Manziel right now.

The Browns could still be dedicated to McCown, under the belief he’s still the guy who gives them the best chance to win. Personally, I just don’t buy it. He’s not unproven, nor is he someone who has a ceiling not yet reached.

At 36-years-old, what you’ve seen from McCown is what you’re going to get. Manziel has finally shown the promise Cleveland was looking for when it tabbed him as the potential quarterback of the future. This much should surely earn him the starting job over someone who’s very clearly not the long-term answer, whether he’s cleared this week or not.

Casey Drottar is the Cleveland Beat Writer for Follow him on Twitter or “Like” him on Facebook

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