CLEVELAND—Johnny Manziel continued to make strides in the second preseason game, but Mike Pettine made it clear that Josh McCown is the team’s starting quarterback, despite a good performance by Manziel and a less than average performance by McCown.
Manziel led the Browns on a 96-yard drive for the Browns only touchdown as he hit rookie Shane Winn for a 21-yard score with 10:06 to play in the game that gave the Browns a 10-3 lead at the time. Manziel played the entire second half and finished 10-of-18 for 118 yards with a touchdown and a 94.2 rating. Manziel was sacked once and ran three times for 19 yards.
Manziel feels the game is slowing down for him.
“Yeah, I think a 96-yard drive is better than the 30-yard drive we had last week so that was better,” he said. “I felt like things were slowing down still. I was able to make some protection calls and get our guys lined up. I think we played a little bit faster.”
Manziel did not play with the Browns starters, other than some of the receivers. Pettine was asked if it’s possible for the second quarterback to make up ground when he’s not playing with the starters.
“We’d say it’s possible, but you just have to, like you said, I think most teams, that’s a pretty good drop off from any starting unit, down to the twos, and then we also mix in with the starters,” Pettine said. “There’s a lot of twos with the starters, as well. There’s an even bigger drop-off to what they’re playing against. It gets factored in, but we’ll see. We’ll evaluate both guys.
“I’m not going to sit here and talk about trying to start up a quarterback controversy.” ?
On the touchdown drive, Manziel was5-of-6 for 82 yards and a touchdown. He hit rookie Darius Jennings for a 37-yard completion two plays before the touchdown pass to Wynn.
“I just thought he saw the field well,” Pettine said. “He placed the ball, made some good throws, used his feet when he had to, and I think that is the area of his game where when he does move and he is successful with it, he is moving with a purpose.
“I thought towards the end of the game, it got a little ragged with that line out there when he was running around,” he said. “That drive in particular, I thought he handled the offense well.”
McCown said he was impressed with Manziel’s play.
“It was awesome, “ McCown said. “It was cool to see him make the plays. I’m really proud of the way he played.”
Manziel said he’s just trying to make the most of his opportunity.
“I’m still going out trying to play my best and make an impression,” Manziel said. “That’s what I want to do. I want to have these guys go into the film tomorrow and turn on the tape and say, ‘This guy’s really doing things right and this guys really fighting hard to pick things up and make some plays.’ That’s what I’m trying to do.
“I’m trying to make an impression and leave a little bit of a lasting memory coming off these games,” he said. “I wish we would have finished that out the right way, but still despite that, good things were done.”
Meanwhile, McCown had three series in the first half and finished 7-of-10 for 57 yards with two interceptions. However, his first two drives finished with interceptions by defensive back Ronald Darby. McCown’s rating was just 44.6 and he was sacked three times.
McCown’s final series was his best. He led the Browns on a scoring drive going 4-of-4 for 40 yards, converting two third down passes for first downs. McCown hit Jim Dray for 11 yards, Brian Hartline for eight, Rob Housler for 11 and Hartline for 10 yards on the drive. Overall, four of McCown’s seven completions were to the tight end, including his longest completion was a 16-yard to Housler.
Pettine said there is no quarterback controversy.
“We have an (season) opener coming up so we are going to rep our guys based on how we see fit to get prepared,” Pettine said. “We wanted to keep the first receivers in with Manziel. We pulled some of the linemen out but kept the first receivers in to get him in there with that group.
“Josh is firmly the one, and he is in a new system,” Pettine said. “Those guys have to play together so we will have to strike a balance with that.”
McCown Hurts Finger: QB Josh McCown said he had X-rays on his finger after feeling soreness in the finger.
“I don’t know when it happened,” McCown said. “I just know it was sore. I don’t want to speculate, but I feel like it will be fine.”
Captain Paul: LB Paul Kruger had quite a first quarter. Kruger sacked QB Tyrod Taylor for a nine-yard loss to force a 46-yard field goal attempt that was missed by K Dan Carpenter. He pressured Taylor on the next series and had a nine-yard tackle for loss of RB Bronson Hill. Kruger had five tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and quarterback hurry. Kruger was one of four captains for the Browns.
Rookie DL Xavier Cooper had two of the Browns four sacks. He sacked QB E.J. Manuel twice in the third quarter. LB Moise Fokou had a sack, as did Kruger. DL Armonty Bryant had a sack, but it was called back by penalty.
DL Randy Starks shot through and had a four-yard tackle for loss on the first series. Rookie DB Landon Feichter led the Browns with six tackles.
Head Games: DB Jordan Poyer and TE Gary Barnidge went to the locker room in the first quarter to be evaluated for concussions. Barnidge was cleared to return to the game, while Poyer was not.
Wynn Wins: Rookie WR Shane Wynn scored the only touchdown for the Browns on a 21-yard pass from QB Johnny Manziel. Wynn also had a 58-yard punt return called back on a penalty.
Rookie WR Darius Jennings caught two passes for 40 yards, including a 37- yard catch that set up Wynn’s touchdown. TE Rob Housler had two catches for 27 yards, including a 16-yard reception.
Taylor Out: DL Phil Taylor was not listed among the 19 inactive players, but he was not suited up for the game.
For Kicks: K Travis Coons hit a 41-yard field goal near the end of the first half to tie the score at 3-3.
Captains: The Browns four captains for the game were LB Paul Kruger, TE Gary Barnidge, OL Joe Thomas and DL Desmond Bryant.