clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Josh McCown holding off Johnny Manziel, and other questions on the Cleveland Browns

New, comments

We exchanged five questions with sister blog Dawgs By Nature's Chris Pokorny on the upcoming game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns.

Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

1. Has Josh McCown looked any better behind an offensive line that at least seems competent? Is he going to hold off Johnny Manziel for the starting job?

I've been visiting Browns training camps for about five years now, and Josh McCown looked like the most comfortable quarterback I've seen in a Browns uniform during that span (although that is not a difficult feat to accomplish). It's tough to judge McCown based on camp, though, because he's playing under circumstances in which he knows he's not going to get hit.

McCown had one sharp series in the first preseason game, but last week, he looked fairly uncomfortable against the Buffalo Bills' defensive front, which Cleveland (and I'm sure many other teams in the NFL) cannot handle. A sack led to a third-and-long, which made him force a throw into traffic for an interception. A little later, with pressure coming up the middle, he launched a jump ball deep to a 5'7 receiver. It was a glimpse back into reality for Browns fans: our expectations for McCown have been low since he was signed, but for however impressive he's looked in camp, we know that it's only a matter of time before he gives way to a successor. I expect that to be Johnny Manziel about mid-way through this season.

2. Cameron Erving was on the wishlist for quite a few Bucs fans, as was Nate Orchard. How have those two rookies looked so far?

Our first first-round pick, nose tackle Danny Shelton, has lit the world on fire and looks like a monster. In comparison, Cameron Erving and Nate Orchard have had your typical rookie-like camps. Neither player has struggled, so-to-speak, but neither one is projected to land a starting role to begin the year. Erving has been getting work at right guard and left tackle with the second-team offense, but it seems like the team is grooming him to be a fill-in at guard this season or a potential fill-in at center if Alex Mack leaves in 2016. Orchard had a rough first preseason game, but bounced back last week as he set the edge on run plays better and showed off some of his pass-rushing ability. Orchard will be part of the outside linebacker rotation this year, but we're not expecting a defensive-rookie-of-the-year performance out of him.

3. Are the Browns going to be able to finally get rid of the "same old Browns" moniker this year?

I thought we had gotten rid of it last year when the Browns started the season at 7-4, but then a bag of bricks hit us again. Brian Hoyer became a major liability, Johnny Manziel's issues were exposed to the 10th power, Josh Gordon was suspended for a year, Kyle Shanahan had a semi-controversial exit, and our general manager was suspended four games for texting to the sideline. It just seems like Cleveland can't have nice things. I think the Browns are on track to shed the "same old Browns" mentality in terms of a controversial standpoint, and maybe we can graduate to a mediocre on-the-rise team that just plays football.

4. How pleased are Browns fans with Mike Pettine? And how likely is it that he'll still be the team's head coach next year?

Mike Pettine has received overwhelming praise from Browns fans. He really preaches the toughness, no-nonsense, and accountability mentality, while also not having the reputation of being an asshole. I think it's tough for coaches to maintain that balance between being tough but approachable, but he's shown the ability to do it. If I had to put a percentage on it, I'm about 90% certain that Pettine will be back next season.

5. Are there any undrafted or late-round rookies we should keep an eye on? Any players on the Browns' roster bubble who could help improve the Bucs if they were released?

He's not undrafted or a late-round pick, but definitely keep an eye on wide receiver Terrelle Pryor. He's been the biggest story of camp, with fans being curious on whether he can transition and be productive at the position. He's missed the first two preseason games with a hamstring injury, but is looking to play this week. This might be his one shot to prove himself as a receiver. In terms of undrafted or late-round picks to watch, tight end/fullback E.J. Bibbs has been a camp star with his position versatility and the ability to break tackles.

Unfortunately, I'm not too keen on the Buccaneers' needs on the depth chart. If you are seeking depth on the defensive line, two veterans on the bubble who could help are defensive end Billy Winn and nose tackle Ishmaa'ily Kitchen. If the Buccaneers need a special teams ace, cornerback Johnson Bademosi and wide receiver Marlon Moore are both great gunners but might become expendable due to more depth in the secondary and at wide receiver.