Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Our Cleveland Browns insider answers questions about the decision to start Josh McCown over Johnny Manziel.

Lane answers subscriber questions about McCown, Manziel and more in this edition of Ask the Insiders.

CaliMTNDawg: What makes them think McCown can win games? Even his best stint in CHI he was under .500 on the year IIRC. 

If the object is to win (which I get), I guess I just don't understand the logic behind going with a guy at QB who has, even in his best year straight up, never won more games than he lost.

I understand the logic, I just don't agree with the assessment of McCown's ability to actually win football games.

Lane: The big picture is what keeps being overlooked when discussing the Browns QB situation and specifically Manziel/McCown.

Josh McCown was better in the off-season work, was better in OTAs and better in training camp. The Browns can run their entire offense with McCown, he adds experience and THEY believe stability and consistency to the room and lineup.

The Browns continue to believe putting McCown in a like situation, a similar offensive plan, he will achieve at a manageable level, minimizing mistakes and provide the Browns to play the ball-control game they wish.

Many are excited due to the win on Sunday and the manner which they won the game. What most overlook is the offense was very inconsistent between the big plays, the potential turnovers could have been costly -- something which weighs heavily on them.

The other factor is, McCown won the job coming out of camp and led the Browns right down the field in the opening series of the season, before McCown took the big hit and turned the ball over. They don't see replacing him coming off that brief stint as warranted -- especially appreciating and taking into consideration the vet aspect within the team structure. McCown gets his opportunity to show he is worthy of being the starter, Johnny Manziel's play made his statement and the staff realizes he can play -- now its seeing how McCown performs, etc.

Also, don't think for a split second the Browns have not considered where Johnny Manziel is today and where he has come from. Going all-in, isn't something that will come easy for them, the trust between a player/coach/team/organization is something that is earned and takes time. Manziel has put himself in position to be in the equation.

Animaleyz: Do you see him (Pettine) wrestling with not only which QB gives him a better chance to win, but also what it means to him? What I mean by that is, is he concerned that if he picks the young man and it falls apart, he could be sacrificed at the altar of Johnny? Or do you think some in the FO and above might owe him a guarantee that if he does pick Johnny and things go south, he is in no risk?

Lane: From putting the pieces together, from what I have been told and having seen this scenario before -- McCown is the respected vet, he performed in camp and is viewed as a presence that knows the offense, can utilize the entire offensive play-book and has demonstrated to the locker room he is consistent and professional -- to this point in time.

Coming off a solid training camp and leading the team right down the field in the opening series of the season-opener prior to injury and turnover, the Browns do not see it as fitting to strip the job from McCown under those circumstances. He earned the job in camp and the Browns will let him go out there and show what he is made of.

It's simpler for the Browns to enable McCown, if he falters, they know that Manziel displayed promise and ability. It's easier to remove the vet if he does not perform - the locker room will handle it much better and the player will understand. Removing him as it would have been on injury, many would have had issue with the sincerity/trust of the staff.

It comes down to McCown proving he is what they believe he is, and/or what he showed them he could/is in camp.

Regardless, the best thing that happened for the Browns is they won the game vs Tennessee and Johnny Manziel showed he wasn't overwhelmed in his season opener relief appearance and start of week-two.

Nineteensixtyfour: I see today's injury report lists Manziel and his elbow. Seems like this was a problem earlier this year. Arm fatigue is one thing, but to have soreness in a joint in the throwing arm as a QB, this early in the year, appears to be disturbing. If he were to become starter his workload would certainly not decrease over the next 3-4 months. What are you guys on the inside hearing about this ongoing issue?

Lane: The elbow hasn't been a serious issue and they are closely monitoring his activities to ensure he has adequate rest. The additions of Austin Davis and Matt Blanchard have eased the number of reps Manziel has to physically throw and the belief is the elbow should not prohibit the young QB from playing if/when necessary.

VonJaeger: With how much Justin Gilbert has seemed to struggle since he was drafted, along with the injury bug he hasn't been able to shake for a little over a month, what is the feeling on the coaching staff's thoughts on him? I would imagine that they're starting to get frustrated with the lack of progress.

Lane: The general thought is, Gilbert is tremendously athletic, he is fundamentally flawed, they have worked to rebuild his game/technique and mindset. Sure, there is frustration, the staff has hoped he would grasp the aspects quicker than he has, show some form of consistency and maturity.

While the belief is his life is stable, he continues to have issues with the on-field aspects, which in some cases perplexes the staff.

Optimistic: It seems to me that the Titans focused on their tight ends more than their wide receivers. Particularly it seems they were successful on crossing routes. And I saw several plays where Whitner was caught chasing after the catch. Is there something in the Browns defense that the Titans saw? Were they avoid tight coverage by the corners? Appreciate your insights.

Lane: The Titans are TE heavy, split them wide and run quite a bit of underneath type stuff - which is also a benefit to the strengths of the young QB starting for them.

If you want to be successful throwing against the Browns, athletic TEs will eat Donte Whitner alive, he bites early and tends to be a step late in man coverage looks.

Iupuiguy82: 1) Do you see Flip bringing Benji in on earlier downs as more of a deep threat to help pull the coverage off the other WR/TE?

2) I won't say TB is a legit deep threat yet, but will this force opposing LB's to stay a bit deeper in their sets? Which should help the OL play better in the run/pass game.

Lane: As the passing game evolves and those at the WR position rep, Travis Benjamin's speed, quickness and solid route running will make him a very viable threat. Teams will have to respect his speed and the ability of the Browns QB to get the ball down-field, which in essence will open the field, especially the middle/intermediate areas for the underneath routes, etc.

Any time an offense can pose a legitimate vertical threat, you'll see a CB and DB cover, whether it's 2 or 3, you are going to get a safety to drop. We'll also begin to see the Browns utilizing the RBs out of the backfield, forcing LBs and DBs into coverage, which will ultimately help the offensive line and run game.


The OBR Top Stories