Time for Browns to roll with Johnny Manziel


Johnny Manziel came out of Cleveland's 30-9 loss to the Steelers on Sunday with one request.

"I want to keep playing," said the second-year Browns quarterback, per Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer. "Every game that I play, I keep learning, and I feel like things keep slowing down, I keep getting better."

Manziel struggled to turn yardage into points, but he made tangible on-field progress against Pittsburgh, completing 73 percent of his passes for 372 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Coach Mike Pettine acknowledged that it was Johnny's finest game as a pro, but not enough to ensure that he would keep the starting job.

Every game, all season

"That's accurate (that it was his best game)," Pettine said. "Against a pretty good defense, he took some hits and stood in the pocket and made some throws. He got out of the pocket and made some throws. He did good with the protection.

"He was very much in tune with the plan, the protection, he knew for the most part where to go with the ball. Unfortunately we didn't get the result, but if you just look at it individually, I think he took a big step forward."

Said Manziel: "I felt like things slowed down today. I was able to see the entire field and know where to go with the ball. The more times I get a chance go out there and get a chance to start, the better I feel. That's progression."

Yes it is, leaving Cleveland with a no-brainer decision. Bottoming out at 2-8, it's time to let your first-round quarterback play out the schedule before assessing the position ahead of next year's draft.

Pettine and staff have been loyal to veteran Josh McCown with good reason. He's been hard-working, reliable and the better quarterback on the field. But finishing the year with a 36-year-old under center borders on insane for a team mired in a decades-long quest for an identity.

Browns coaches are fighting to keep their jobs. They aren't here to experiment with the roster, but we're talking about a first-round quarterback who has barely played, while watching his signal-calling peers grow up.

For a club in need of a spark -- and so much more -- it's time to put your most exciting player on the field. For good.