BEREA, Ohio (AP) – Johnny Manziel’s commitment to fixing his personal life has the Browns feeling positive about his future as a quarterback.
Browns coach Mike Pettine confirmed Monday that Manziel, whose disastrous rookie season in Cleveland was followed by him seeking help for an undisclosed issue, remains in a rehab treatment facility. Manziel entered a private facility in Ohio on Jan. 28, and Pettine said there is not a specific date for the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner to be released.
Pettine, appearing at an area auto show, was asked if he viewed Manziel’s lengthier stay as a good sign.
“Sure,” he said. “It’s something that he was very resolute that needed to get done.”
Pettine said the team has had some communication with Manziel, who spent most of the season as Brian Hoyer’s backup before making two rather forgettable starts. Manziel led the Browns to just three points in six quarters as a starter and appeared overwhelmed by the speed of the pro game.
Pettine reiterated that the Browns are solely concerned about Manziel getting well.
“It’s more important the personal stuff now, football is an afterthought,” Pettine said, “so we’re just giving him his privacy and do what he has to do.”
Pettine believes that when Manziel returns, he will be a better player simply because the Browns have added Kevin O’Connell and John DeFilippo to their coaching staff. O’Connell, the team’s new quarterbacks coach, worked with Manziel before the 2014 draft and DeFilippo, who replaces Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator, has worked extensively with young QBs.
“Well, I just think in hiring Kevin O’Connell, hiring John DeFilippo, and knowing what those guys bring to the table from a quarterback standpoint that when Johnny is back, I’m very confident that he’ll be better,” Pettine said. “Just knowing how those guys coach that position and what they’re going to ask of not just him but all the quarterbacks in the room.”
As the Browns wait for Manziel, Pettine said he would have no problem with newly signed veteran quarterback Josh McCown as his starter next season. McCown went 1–10 as a starter in 2014 for Tampa Bay.
“I’d be comfortable, I would,” Pettine said. “He’s proven he can start in this league. I’m not going to stand here and announce that’s the situation. We’ll see what our roster looks like when we get to September. But here’s a guy who has played quality minutes in this league and brings a lot to our organization on and off the field.”