Naming Johnny Manziel the starter seemed like a foregone conclusion with Adam Schefter reporting it and Brian Hartline saying it was what he expected. Yet HC Mike Pettine wasn't willing to declare that yesterday. He noted talking to the QBs on Tuesday, which makes sense to delay the announcement until Austin Davis was notified. Another report said that Manziel was late again to a practice or meeting last week, which could have been an issue.
Instead, we got confirmation via email from the Browns that Manziel would be the starter. So let us break down what that press release really is saying:
Johnny Manziel was informed Tuesday he’ll be the Browns’ starting quarterback beginning Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
Unlike the last time Manziel was named the starter, he hasn't been named the starter "for the rest of the season." However, unlike with Davis, he wasn't just named the starter for the upcoming game. A little bit of both here as the word "beginning" indicates the plan is for the rest of the season without going that far.
“Johnny will be our starting quarterback on Sunday,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said. “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.”
He has been "solid in the building" means they have seen some of what they had hoped when they benched him. While many disagreed with that decision, Pettine might have been the first coach to every really discipline Manziel. That it seems he has responded well over a couple of weeks is a good sign that he may be learning and growing.
That he needs to "build on the progress" on the field means the coaching staff have seen him develop better habits needed of an NFL level QB. It has been clear that the Manziel that played in Week 1 was much better when he took over the starting job for the injured McCown in the middle of the season. He developed as a passer from the pocket, kept his eyes down field and was in more control of the offense.
Then we got the "needs to show" which many fans have wanted. Basically Manziel has a 4 game tryout which could play a huge role in his future with the team. He has a month, a quarter of a season, to show that he can be a professional on and off the field. Off the field is obvious but on the field the Browns need to see development, not excitement or just stats. Does he stay in the pocket? Does he make his progressions? Can he stay healthy? Lot he can prove in 4 games.
Manziel takes over for Austin Davis, who made his first start with the Browns in Cleveland’s Week 13 loss to the Bengals. Davis, who threw for 230 yards and an interception against the Bengals, will resume his role as the backup.
Basically, Davis didn't do enough against the Bengals to show that he has an upside anywhere near Manziel's. Doesn't mean the Browns don't like him but his ceiling is lower. Manziel's floor is probably lower due to his off the field issues while Davis gives the Browns a low level starter floor.
Manziel has appeared in six games this season and started three, the most recent coming Nov. 15 at Pittsburgh. He’s completed 76-of-128 passes for 933 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. He also has 73 rushing yards.
On the season, Cleveland’s three quarterbacks have completed close to 63 percent of their passes for 3,349 yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Some basic stats to end the post. The last line may be the most interesting. A chance to say "See our QBs haven't been that bad." 63% isn't terrible and 18 TDs to 7 INTs is good enough. With 4 games left, Browns QBs are likely to throw for around 4,000 yards this season.
What did you read into the Browns press release naming Manziel the starter?