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NFL AM: Report Says Manziel To Start, Pettine Denies

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Report: Manziel To Start Rest Of The Season

ESPN reported Monday morning that the Cleveland Browns will start embattled second-year quarterback Johnny Manziel for the remaining four games of the regular season.

This report comes just two weeks after Manziel was named the starter for the rest of the season and then subsequently lost the job after he reportedly lied to team officials about his use of alcohol.

At this point there is no winning for the 2-10 Cleveland Browns with their quarterback situation.

Manziel was never the best quarterback on his roster.  Still, it was the consensus opinion that the team should play the former first-round pick to find out if he is their future.

It’s become increasingly clear that neither head coach Mike Pettine, nor general manager Ray Farmer wanted to draft Manziel and it was simply the owner’s decision.  Since Pettine’s job security is based upon wins and losses, it makes a lot of sense that he was hesitant, if not defiant in terms of whether to play “Johnny Football” over Josh McCown, who was actually pretty good.

With McCown on the injured reserve, the Browns are left with Manziel and Austin Davis.  At this point there’s no reason not to play the former Heisman Trophy winner.

Still, Pettine would not confirm the report of Manziel starting on Monday.

“I haven’t spoken to the quarterbacks yet,” Pettine said. “That’s where we are with it.”

The head coach’s defiance will get him nothing but a pink slip following the conclusion of the 2015 season.  With Joe Philbin and Ken Whisenhunt already losing their jobs during the season, Pettine is a mortal lock to be the next head coach fired, likely on Monday, January 4th.

There’s two ways of looking at this for Pettine.  The first is that since he’s getting fired no matter what, he just as soon do things his own way.  Besides, if Manziel performs well the head coach will look even worse for not playing him up to this point.

The second way of looking at things for Pettine is to do what his boss wants, despite his eventual firing.  This will show other teams that he’s willing to “play ball” with his bosses, regardless of how it affects him.

We believe Pettine will eventually give in and play Manziel.

Will the head coach be rooting for his young quarterback?  That’s another story.

Fisher Passes The Buck Again

Speaking of head coaches getting fired, could St. Louis Rams head man Jeff Fisher join Mike Pettine on the chopping block on January 4th?

Fisher is pulling out all of the stops to distract anyone from seeing the truth:  Jeff Fisher is an average, overpaid head coach.

Following Monday’s 27-3 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Fisher said he was “out of answers” and on Monday morning the team announced that they would be moving on from offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti.

“We thank Frank for his hard work and dedication over the last four years,” Fisher said in a statement. “We wish him the best moving forward.”

Assistant head coach Rob Boras will take over the role for the team’s final four games.

Fisher had a hand in the offseason trade which sent oft-injured former first-overall pick Sam Bradford to Philadelphia in exchange for quarterback Nick Foles.  Foles was benched just after the midway point in the season and was forced to play the last two weeks because of a concussion to backup turned starter Case Keenum.

Even part of Keenum’s injury could be placed on Fisher, as he willfully or unwillfully ignored an obvious head injury to his quarterback, and sent him back into the game without missing a play.

The former USC and Chicago Bears Super Bowl winning defensive back turned head coach is in his fourth season with the Rams and his best finish has been 7-9.  This is from one of the most sought after head coaching candidates after he was let go from Tennessee after the 2010 season, as the franchise had become stale.

Fisher is great with quotes, but the on-field results have left plenty to be desired.  In parts of 21 seasons as a head coach, his team’s have qualified for the postseason just six times.  If you take away his 1999 run to the Super Bowl where they lost to the current franchise he directs, Fisher has a 2-4 postseason record.

That Super Bowl run was 16 years ago and the trophies (in a different city) are getting dusty.

Seahawks Release Cary Williams

The Seattle Seahawks have moved on from cornerback Cary Williams, who they waived on Monday.

For his trouble, and the inability to cover receivers, Williams received $7 million for 10 games of work.

This is another example of why the Seahawks are one of the elite franchises in football.

Sure, they made a free agent mistake, like every other franchise does from time to time, but instead of trying to cover their mistake and keeping him on the roster, Seattle washed their hands of a player who wasn’t performing.  Regardless of how it makes Pete Carroll and John Schneider look.

The move that Carroll made four years ago by starting then rookie Russell Wilson over free agent signee Matt Flynn is often referenced as the right way to do business and helped the team get to a pair of Super Bowls.  This is another move that echos that.

Seattle is in a unique position in which the head coach and general manager have great job security and can make personnel decisions based upon the best interests of the organization.  If every other franchise operated the same way, they may be better off.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.