The Cleveland Browns have publicly named Josh McCown the starting quarterback, but there are rumors that Johnny Manziel’s stock is rapidly rising and he could steal back the job once thought to be out of his reach.
Manziel’s track with the team has been anything but stable. Drafted in the first round in 2014, many expected Manziel to win over the starting job and flash the skills that earned him the nickname Johnny Football.
But instead, Manziel languished behind Brian Hoyer on the bench, and underwhelmed when he finally did get the chance to start late in the year. There were rumors from inside the Cleveland Browns organization that Manziel wasn’t committed to playing, that he didn’t know the playbook well enough, and only cared about partying.
Those rumors appeared at least partly validated when Manziel entered rehab at the end of the season. Though the Browns publicly stood behind Manziel, there were rumors that the team was ready to dump Manziel.
Now, that appears to have changed course. The team’s brass, from the general manager down to coaches, have praised the work he’s put in so far since leaving rehab and rejoining the team.
“Johnny’s been great,” Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo told Cleveland.com. “He’s been fantastic. What he wants to talk about, before he stepped foot back in this building, is his business. All I know is Johnny the football player, and he’s been awesome. He’s been working hard, very hard with myself and [quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell], and doing what we want him to do on the field.”
Publicly, the Browns are still saying that McCown is the man going into the season, however.
“We’re not going to start talking competition,” Pettine said, per the Chronicle-Telegram. “Josh will more than likely be the starter going into camp, and in the foreseeable future I don’t see that changing.”
Pettine added that the best thing for Manziel is to keep his focus on improving.
“We want him, essentially, with horse blinders on,” he said. “Focus on his job, getting up every day, perfecting his craft, whatever it is, homework that the quarterbacks have or come out and working on his footwork, his releases. That he’s much more concerned about himself than really anything else.”
There are now rumors that the Cleveland Browns want Johnny Manziel to be their starter, but are not willing to simply hand over the job. The team will be making Manziel work to prove that he is committed, with the hopes that he will outperform McCown and take the job.
[Image via Getty Images/Tom Szczerbowski]