Fast Lane Mailbag: Quarterback attack

Lane takes on your questions, starting with the gorilla in the room: McCown or Manziel? With the media already thirsting for a quarterback battle, the OBR gives you the straight scoop.

Q: Knowing what we know about the Browns QB situation, led by Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel, Thad Lewis and Connor Shaw, how do you see the starting job playing out? Also, do you believe that Manziel has any realistic chance to start week-one, if at all in the 2015 season? Jay F, Centerville OH

Fast Lane: I know it’s unfathomable to think an NFL organization needing a starting quality QB in the worst way would seek out and sign what most believe is a journeyman type player to lead.

Truth be told, the Browns are of the impression McCown is a player that can come in, start, play reasonably well within a structured system and stabilize what has been poor situation.

The Browns believe McCown is better than what he showed a season ago within a miserable Tampa Bay offense and not quite the high-quality performer he showed as a season earlier while a member of the Chicago Bears.

With McCown they envision leadership, experience and they’ll go from there.

As for Johnny Manziel, he has had some very good moments in OTA sessions and some poor moments as well. The Browns are not counting on anything from Manziel other than for him to work hard, display the ability which led the Browns to select him in the first round in 2014 and be a good teammate.

I do not see Manziel beating out McCown in training camp and the veteran QB is likely to be the best option to help get a revamped offense implemented. If it gets to the point where Manziel is comparable, the Browns would be best served to see what the young man has to help them determine whether a QB is a necessity looking toward next season.

Q: This isn’t football of the 1970’s, teams move the ball through the air, scoring quickly, some rather easily. The Browns always appear to be looking to invent the wheel, passing on quarterbacks and receivers and selecting lineman that do not win games in the grand scheme. Again in the past draft, the Browns selected an offensive and defensive lineman, while the receiving quality was ignored and we continue to have no quarterback. Why do they continue this approach? Fred R, Columbus OH

Fast Lane: While I agree that football has evolved since the 70’s, there remains a very legitimate reason/purpose to have high quality players along the lines.

Football remains a game that is won in the trenches in most cases, though success via the air is more prevalent in this age relative to the run game in past eras.

A season ago the Browns were a poor team against the run for many reasons, but primarily, the interior run defense was sub-standard and the team lacked play of commitment to the edges.

The Browns were also a team that could not generate a pass rush or natural pressure at the point without blitzing. The selection of NT Danny Shelton is expected to vastly improve the interior run defense, while the selection of DT Xavier Cooper, a penetrating type lineman, should help with the interior pressure.

Selecting offensive lineman Cameron Erving, a very versatile player, opens up possibilities for a Browns offensive line that struggled a season ago in the wake of center Alex Mack’s broken ankle.

The Browns struggled mightily following the injury, as the quality and depth within the positional roster was mediocre and/or inexperienced.

Erving is in the mode of 2014 draftee Joel Bitonio, a player that the organization believes can step in, start, and play at a high level. Additionally, Mack can opt-out of his contract and leave via free agency and the Browns wanted to ensure they don’t go through a season as they did in 2014.

I agree with your thoughts on the wide receiver position; teams which generally have a significant threat at the position fare better with the component pieces in place. As the Browns stand today, I don’t realistically see either. Maybe they’ll surprise in training camp.

Q: New year, same story, the Browns failed to get a quarterback and they will likely suck again. Why couldn’t the Browns secure a deal to get Sam Bradford, Nick Foles or Marcus Mariota or Bryce Petty? If they would have this would have been a playoff team, what gives? Mike H, Toledo OH

Fast Lane: It takes two to tango and it can be said the Browns did not have the right pieces to secure Bradford and never had a serious discussion on Foles after Chip Kelly arrived in Philadelphia.

St. Louis sought a QB in return when dealing Bradford — one which the Browns did not have to give. The Rams were not interested in Manziel.

There was so much incorrect information spread by media on the Browns and Mariota it was ridiculous, to be perfectly honest.

While the Browns liked Mariota, the Browns front office in no way evaluated Mariota as being a sure thing, a player they were willing or comfortable with giving up multiple draft selections as well as on-field talent from within the roster.

The Browns never made an offer to Tampa Bay or Tennessee to position themselves to make a run at the QB and I believe that was the right decision based on the information we know.

As for Petty, the Browns had hands-on knowledge of the player and deemed him a project who could reach potential starter quality, years down the road. If anything, the Browns liked QB Garrett Grayson much better (selected by the Saints).

Here’s where I agree: Until the Browns find that elusive QB, not necessarily a ‘franchise’ QB, but a good, quality player at the position, the struggles for the team will continue.

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