The Cleveland Browns are rumored to be nearing a changing of the guard at quarterback, with second-year pro Johnny Manziel possibly stepping into the No. 1 slot for the long term after an injury to Josh McCown.
The Browns were forced to turn to Manziel in Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets after starter McCown went down with a concussion. Much like his first extended action last year — another relief performance, that one against the Buffalo Bills — Manziel looked sharp to start out with, USA Today noted. He scampered for a 22-yard gain and later hit Travis Benjamin for a 54-yard touchdown.
Many took notice of the poise and confidence Manziel showed in the first half, a major difference from last season when he often looked lost.
Johnny Manziel looks like Johnny Johnnball. He is not the same QB as last year.
— Charean Williams (@NFLCharean) September 13, 2015
For the most part, Johnny Manziel has looked good. #Browns
— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) September 13, 2015
Things got much more difficult from there. With the Jets defense zeroing in on Manziel, he struggled with a miss on an endzone pass to Andrew Hawkins and an interception into tight coverage. He also fumbled twice, allowing the Jets to pull away and win 31-10.
Manziel seemed to be well aware of his shortcomings.
“First and foremost,” Manziel said (via ESPN), “you can’t turn the ball over.”
Though the performance wasn’t exactly what Cleveland Browns fans were hoping to see out of Johnny Manziel, rumors indicate that he could still be preparing to step into the starting role. Jason Cole of Bleacher Report quoted a team source that said McCown’s concussion is “not bad,” but league’s new stringent protocol on concussions could mean a difficult return.
There have been rumors for weeks that the Cleveland Browns could be grooming Johnny Manziel to become the eventual starter. It’s likely that few people see McCown as a long-term solution, but after a season in which Manziel appeared more interested in partying than working on his transition to the NFL, the team felt uneasy simply handing over the starting job.
While the Cleveland Browns likely envisioned Manziel taking over the starting job with his strong performances, it doesn’t always work that way in the NFL. Rumors about McCown’s health are still swirling, but if he does miss extended time it could give Johnny Manziel the opportunity he’s been waiting for.
[Image via Getty Images]