Johnny Manziel has thrown just 163 passes in 11 NFL games, but his time in Cleveland might already be over, as the Browns (2-9) will start Austin Davis at quarterback this Sunday against the Bengals (9-2).
Yes, from excessive parting to rehab to relapses, the Manziel Experiment has been an absolute nightmare in Cleveland.
“He’s driving me nuts, (so) I can’t imagine what Mike (Pettine is) going through,” NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I was a real Johnny Manziel fan coming out of college. What a magician on the field. He was really fun to watch. He deserves a chance and the Browns owe it to themselves to find out what he can do. Is he their future or not? Now, he’s been in rehab. He’s taken time to correct some things and get back on track and all of a sudden he does this again. And it’s like, okay, is this guy ever going to learn? It’s a head-scratcher. But to me, I’d sit him one more game and (then play him). Because the other guys probably aren’t their future and they got to evaluate this guy. Maybe even put some good film out there so they can trade him.”
It might seem strange that the Browns went with Josh McCown last week, especially after Manziel threw for 372 yards against the Steelers in his previous start. McCown broke his collarbone and will miss the rest of the season, thus opening the door for a backup.
Only that backup is Davis, who threw for 77 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens.
Brandon Tierney believes this is a calculated move by Pettine, who started 7-4 last season but has since gone 2-14. If Pettine knew for sure that he would be the Browns’ head coach next year, he’d probably be willing to trot out Manziel, see what he has and build for the future.
“But if you know you’re on the hot seat and you’re a lame-duck coach,” Mariucci said, “you’re just going to try to win as many games as you can for your record and get out for here and do what you want to do. Yeah, there could definitely be a different approach by a head coach if he doesn’t think he’s going to be there next year. No doubt.”
The Browns and Bengals kick off this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
The Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, meanwhile, will kick off Week 13 on Thursday night. The Packers, who started 6-0, are 1-4 in their last five games, including a stunning 18-16 loss to the Lions at Lambeau.
Green Bay has been held to 16 points or fewer in three of the last five weeks.
“They’re not playing like we expected them to play,” Mariucci said. “Many people put them in the Super Bowl. They don’t look like it right now. Could losing Jordy Nelson be that much of an impact on that offense? I don’t know. James Jones was a great get after they lost Jordy, but you know what? Aaron Rodgers is being pressured more than ever, he’s not as good against the blitz right now as he has been, and they’re just a little off. They certainly need Eddie Lacy and James Starks and the run game to stay balanced. Their defense isn’t all that good, either. I was shocked that they lost to the Bears on Brett Favre’s night when Bart Starr was in the stadium.”