Manziel given leash as Browns’ starter
There was no formal presentation or fanfare. No torch passing ceremony.
Browns coach Mike Pettine simply pulled Johnny Manziel aside and told him he would be Cleveland’s starting quarterback for the remainder of this season.
No longer just a celebrated bad-boy backup, Manziel joined an elite class.
The trick will be staying there.
Manziel’s budding pro career, dotted mostly by missteps on and off the field to this point — the NFL said Tuesday he will not be disciplined for a domestic case — seems to be finally headed in the right direction for him. Now, the Browns will find out if he can be their franchise QB.
Fresh off a strong start at Pittsburgh on Sunday, Manziel moved ahead of veteran Josh McCown on the depth chart, a switch that will either usher in a new era for the Browns or send them scrambling again to fill a troublesome position.
“I wanted the chance to be the guy and that was always my goal,” said Manziel, who was watching film before Pettine told him the news. “I’m excited, I think as I should be. This is a great opportunity with a great group of guys that are going to go out and fight with me every week.”
Pettine made the change before the team’s first bye-week practice, two days after Manziel passed for a career-high 372 yards in a 30-9 loss to the Steelers. He also flashed a few of those Johnny Football moments that won him the Heisman Trophy at Texas A&M.
After fumbling on his first play, Manziel regrouped and completed 33 of 45 passes with one touchdown. He didn’t lead the Browns (2-8) to victory, but Manziel showed he’s learning from his mistakes, growing more comfortable in the pocket and ready to take his biggest step yet.
“The performance against Pittsburgh validated for us the progress he’s made and the improvement he’s shown and that he deserves this opportunity,” Pettine said.
This will give us an opportunity to see how far he’s come and what he’s capable of. Browns coach Mike Pettine