Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine announced on Wednesday that Austin Davis will serve as the team's starting quarterback for the Week 13 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The move comes in response to former starter Josh McCown being placed on injured reserve with a broken collarbone, an injury he suffered in the fourth quarter of the Browns' 33-27 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night.
Davis was McCown's backup in the game, with Johnny Manziel demoted to third string following bye-week lies to Pettine about what he did on the team's week off. Pettine said on Tuesday that he would be meeting with his fellow coaches (and, ostensibly, with general manager Ray Farmer and other decision-makers) about who would start against the Bengals. Ultimately, Pettine determined Davis was the best choice, saying that, "Austin took advantage of his opportunity on Monday night. He was prepared, played well and put us in position to win. He’s been great in the quarterback room all season and he has earned the right to start on Sunday. We expect him to play well."
In his Cleveland debut on Monday, Davis completed seven of his 10 passing attempts for 77 yards and a 42-yard touchdown to receiver Travis Benjamin and also had a seven-yard scramble to put the Browns in field-goal range. He was an eight-game starter for the St. Louis Rams in 2014, completing 180 of his 284 pass attempts for 2,001 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Davis joined the Browns in early September and later that month received a two-year, $3.69 million contract extension.
The promotion means that the Browns will be starting their third quarterback on the season and the 15th quarterback in 26 meetings with the Bengals. It also does not preclude the Browns from turning back to Manziel at any point in the future. But for now, Davis is the starter and the figurehead of Cleveland's passing offense, the one thing that has been a strong suit for the team this year.