BEREA—Johnny Manziel is back in at quarterback.
After denying several national reports that the decision had already been made to start Manziel for this week's game with the 49ers, Mike Pettine made it official on Tuesday. He alluded that Manziel has a chance to start the final four games, but didn't declare him the starter.
“Johnny will be our starting quarterback on Sunday,” Pettine said in a statement released by the team. “He’s been solid in the building over the last couple of weeks and we are hopeful he takes this opportunity to continue to build on the progress he’s made on the field throughout the season. The goal for every game is to go out and win, and Johnny needs to show that he can put us in position to do so during these last four weeks of the season.”
Even after saying the decision hadn’t been made on Monday, ESPN’s Adam Scheffer and Christ Mortenson reported the change during halftime of the Monday Night Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.
Pettine said on Monday that the coaching staff will evaluate everything in making the decision.
“When we talk about (the quarterbacks), we hit the re-set button and throw everything on the table,” he said. “It will all be discussed.”
Pettine was asked if he felt Manziel has learned his lesson.
“I hope so,” he said. “It’s a better question for him, but I hope so.
“As I’ve talked about before, when he’s been in the building it hasn’t been an issue,” he said. “He was on point this week, in his role.”
It was assumed that Manziel would return to the field after sitting out the last two games since Josh McCown was injured. On the season, Manziel is 76-of-128 for 933 yards (59.4 pct.) with five touchdowns and two interceptions. His rating is 88.4.
Manziel has started three games for the Browns this season and has played in six overall contests. He started in one of the Browns two wins, a 28-14 win over the Titans.
In his last start against the Pittsburgh Steelers-- a start in which Manziel threw for 372 yards and a touchdown-- Pettine said the growth of the quarterback on the field was clear, leading him to trust Manziel as the starter.
After Manziel was named the starter for the rest of the season, he was involved in an incident during the bye week and a coverup lie that returned McCown into the starting lineup against Baltimore. After McCown broke his collar bone against the Ravens, Austin Davis finished the game out and started last Sunday against the Bengals. Davis was 25-of-38 for 230 yards with no touchdowns and one interception and a rating of 71.2.
Pettine said that he feels that four games is more than enough time to evaluate Manziel as a quarterback going forward.
“It depends on how those games go,” Pettine said. “We have to make sure that we support our quarterback. We have to play well around our quarterback, but four games is a quarter of a season. That’s a good chunk of time. I think we already have a sense of where he is from a football standpoint. He’s done some good things and has shown progress and that’s encouraging. We’ll see how it plays out.”
Brian Hartline, one of the two wide receivers to finish Sunday’s game, is excited to get re-united with Manziel on the field.“(Manziel’s) been doing some great things on the football field,” Hartline said. “I’m excited to play with Johnny again.”