CINCINNATI — Johnny Manziel “absolutely” wants to keep the starting quarterback job for the Cleveland Browns, but coach Mike Pettine was noncommital following the 31-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
“When we get in and get back from this time off, we will assess what pool of players are available and go ahead and make those decisions from there,” Pettine said. “This will be a good time to step away and reassess where we are moving forward.”
Players will be off through the weekend. The Browns don’t return until early next week, when they start to prepare to play in Pittsburgh on Nov. 15.
Incumbent starter Josh McCown said Tuesday he had trouble breathing and sleeping because of a painful rib injury that hampered him in Sunday’s game. The team hoped he’d be able to play, but the short week prevented McCown, who has 1,897 passing yards and 11 touchdowns against four interceptions, from being ready for Thursday night. His absence opened the door for Manziel to start.
Manziel was asked if he wants to remain the starter.
“Yes, absolutely,” he said. “We get a few days off now to refresh and get a break … come back, watch the film and then get ready to go for the following week.”
Manziel had an effective first half, throwing for a touchdown and 128 yards. But in the second half, he was just 4-of-15 for 40 yards and was sacked three times. He said the second half was “eerily familiar” to the disastrous first start of his rookie season, a 30-0 loss to the Bengals.
Pettine said Manziel was “inconsistent.”
“I thought he did some good things, but I just thought in the second half, especially after we fell behind, he was just trying to make too many big plays instead of just taking completions,” he said.
Said Manziel: “I think there were some good things done in the first half, but there’s two halves for a reason. I did some good things tonight and some things I wish I could have back.”
Manziel said he is confident he can do the job if he remains the starter.
“Yes,” he said. “I think things slowed down a little bit.”