When Josh McCown was cleared to play following a concussion that he sustained against the New York Jets in Week 1, many people thought the Browns should stick with Johnny Manziel, especially after he led Cleveland to a 28-14 win over Tennessee in Week 2.
Mike Pettine, however, knew better. True, the Browns are 1-2 since McCown returned to action, but the 36-year-old has played about as well as possible. In the last three weeks, McCown has thrown for 1,154 yards and has seven touchdowns (six pass, one rush) to just one interception.
“Well, we’ve done a good amount of research on Josh in the offseason and I know a lot of coaches around the league that had worked with him and just raved about the guys’ professionalism, his preparation and how he is as a teammate,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “When we really dug into it and analyzed what happened last year in Tampa, a lot of those circumstances were outside of his control, and we leaned probably more heavily on what he was able to accomplish in Chicago. We were confident that if he came in here and we surrounded him with the right cast and played well around him that he would be very capable and maximize our chances for success.”
Manziel, meanwhile, has been relegated to the bench since Week 2.
“He’s handled it extremely well,” Pettine said. “It was well-documented his personal issues that occurred in the spring. I think bringing in Josh was the best thing for him. But I can speak for Johnny in the fact of when he’s in the building, he’s been outstanding. He gets in early, he spends a lot of time in the quarterback room. Those guys come in and spend a lot of time in the quarterback room. Those guys come in and spend a lot of time on their own, on their days off.
“We’re always looking to build confidence through preparation, and there’s no more important position to do that than at quarterback,” Pettine continued. “Johnny demonstrated (that) when Josh went down against the Jets after the first drive. He came in and made some mistakes, put the ball on the ground, but from a mental standpoint, from a preparation standpoint, we didn’t have to water down the call sheet. He was very much in tune with what we were doing and did a good job reading coverages and getting the ball to where it was supposed to go.
“And then when he had a chance the next week against Tennessee to prepare as the starter and went out and executed the game plan and won the game, we’re very pleased with where he is. He’s done a good job.”
The Browns (2-3), who beat the Ravens on the road in overtime last weekend, host the Broncos (5-0) this Sunday. While the stats say that Peyton Manning – with six touchdowns and seven interceptions – isn’t the player he used to be, Pettine is expecting the best from No. 18.
“The guy’s still Peyton Manning,” Pettine said. “He doesn’t even need to get to the first ballot for his Hall of Fame ticket. When we prepare for an opponent, we always assume we’re going to get their best. So I know a lot is being made of (his decline), but that’s certainly not our take in the building.”
Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.