The Browns are 2-6 and seem to be headed on a path destined for an early tee time rather than a playoff game, when the regular-season ends.
Their quarterback, a 36-year old journeyman, has been a bright spot, but has also been a part of more X-rays than touchdowns this season.
The defense, the team’s purported strength, has been the league’s worst and won’t get any better without two of their Pro Bowlers— Joe Haden and Donte Whitner— each of whom sustained concussions this past Sunday.
To cap it off, the team’s upcoming schedule features five divisional games and two West Coast trips, which doesn’t bode well for a team with as many issues as the Browns.
Yet, with all that being said, Browns head coach Mike Pettine doesn’t feel as though it’s time to turn loose the younger players— namely, Johnny Manziel— and look towards the future.
“To me, he’s our backup,” Pettine said of Manziel. “(McCown is) doing a good job playing the position… Those are just our circumstances.”
Pettine’s praise of McCown isn’t unwarranted, but his refusal to play Manziel has some questioning his faith in the quarterback.
He quickly dispelled those thoughts and, once again, indicated that it's McCown's play that has pushed aside any thoughts of Manziel.
“I don't really get too wrapped up in what the outside perception is of our quarterback room, but I just know Josh McCown has done a great job for us,” Pettine said. “He's doing a good job playing the position. We feel good about where Johnny is and the direction he's headed.”
Pettine’s clearly not ready to insert Manziel and not ready to see what the team has in the second-year signal-caller, but Manziel isn't the only one the head coach isn’t prepared to play.
He’s also not ready to take a look at Justin Gilbert and some of the other young players on the Browns roster that do not seem to have been part of the plan to win games this season.
“We’re not at that point,” Pettine said, when asked if it's time for the team to look to the future. “To me, it’s a valid question… We’re just not ready to say we’re at that point yet.”
When the Browns will reach that point remains to be seen, but a loss on Thursday to the Cincinnati Bengals may accelerate them to that situation very quickly.
Pettine said as much when referring to the time off that the Browns will have after Thursday night’s game.
“When we get to each week, especially with some time off coming up, we’ll certainly hit the reset button and see where we are,” Pettine said. “Each week brings a new challenge, a new set of circumstances.”
This week will bring a set of circumstances that may force Johnny Manziel into a starting role, but that is yet to be determined.
One thing is certain: only time will tell when or if it’s time for Manziel.
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.