The big question among fans of the Cleveland Browns this week is who will start at quarterback against Pittsburgh this Sunday at Heinz Field.
Coach Mike Pettine continues to favor veteran Josh McCown, saying he gives the Browns the rest chance to win on Sunday, even though his record as a starter since the beginning of the 2014 season is 2-16.
That appears to say volumes about how the coaching staff (or maybe just the head coach) feels about Johnny Manziel, who has started two games this season and went 1-1.
And even the harshest critic of the former Heisman Trophy winner has to admit at halftime, you had to feel pretty good about how Johnny Football performed.
Unless that harshest critic is the head coach, who felt the need to tell a national television audience that the Browns needed to “calm down” the second year player.
Still, all of this talk about the quarterback is masking the real problems with this football team, so in a way, Pettine should be thankful for Johnny Manziel.
Last Thursday night, the Cleveland defense allowed 30 points for the fifth time this season. Keep in mind, the Browns have only played nine games, so in half of the contests, opponents have put 30 points on the board.
No matter who your quarterback is, it is tough to win football games when you are giving up that many points.
Another problem that has pretty much been swept under the rug has been the blueprint for winning games that Pettine’s team was supposed to use going into the year.
The Browns were to be a running team, pounding the ball behind an offensive line which featured All Pros, and a rock solid defensive unit, led by one of the league’s best secondaries.
With Joe Thomas and Alex Mack anchoring the line, and two other Pro Bowlers, Joe Haden and Donte Whitner in the secondary, it was easy to see why the coaches and fans alike would be excited about these units.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t gone according to plan either.
The Browns simply can’t run the football, ranking 31st (second to last) in rushing, and they continue to search for answers, trying to use such stalwarts as Shawn Draughn and Robert Turbin, instead of seeing what Isaiah Crowell can do with 15-20 carries per game.
Cleveland QB’s have also been sacked 30 times, against second to last in the NFL.
The offensive line has been terrible this season, a year after they were among the best in the league prior to Mack’s broken leg.
As for the defensive backfield, sure there have been injuries, but this group in slightly below the middle of the pack in terms of allowing passing yards. This is compounded by having just 15 sacks, a figure that ranks 23rd in the league.
Keep in mind that seven of those sacks came in one game, a week two victory over Tennessee.
So, to summarize, the defense can’t stop the run, can’t put pressure on the passer, and really doesn’t defend the pass when it is thrown.
Those are the real problems with this football team, not who plays quarterback.
But the head coach doesn’t acknowledge those issues, continuing to say his team is “close” to winning. Let us remind everyone that Pettine’s team is 2-12 in their last 14 games.
That doesn’t seem close.
But let’s talk about the quarterback.