A month ago, Browns head coach Mike Pettine labeled veteran journeyman Josh McCown the favorite to become the Browns’ starting quarterback heading into the upcoming season, but the coach isn’t stopping there, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal reports.
Now Pettine is essentially labeling McCown the best “bridge” starter the Browns could have possibly found this offseason.
The manner in which Pettine and General Manager Ray Farmer gushed over McCown during a Browns Fan Fest panel discussion Saturday at the Cleveland Convention Center suggests he might be more of a virtual lock to start the Sept. 13 regular-season opener at the New York Jets than a mere favorite. There hasn’t been even a hint of a competition between McCown, 35, and backup Johnny Manziel, 22, in spring practices, and if the most recent endorsement McCown received from the team’s brass is any indication, a position battle won’t magically materialize this summer during training camp, either.
“Until you feel you’ve found what you would call a long-term solution [at quarterback], I don’t think we could have done any better than bringing in a guy like Josh McCown,” Pettine said in front of hundreds of fans who gathered around a stage to listen.
“To me, time will tell, but there’s so much that he does behind the scenes that people just can’t appreciate from everything you talk about — leadership, all the intangible stuff. He’s truly a team guy. He’s all about winning football games.
“It’s like having another coach on the field, and it’s all genuine. That’s the thing you like the most. Despite his age, people that have been at practice agree, he can still spin it. We didn’t just look to bring in a guy who was just going to be a mentor. We wanted a guy who we think can still play a little bit if you put him in the right circumstances. He’s been more than advertised.”
“I’ll tell you that [McCown is] different than anybody I’ve ever been around in the National Football League,” GM Ray Farmer said. “He is a special, special person. He is the right guy, in my mind, to have on this Browns team. He can lead. He can support. One of the things that’s big in my life is servant leadership. You’ve got to part of the group to serve the group, and he’s that.
“He’s learned a lot of good ways to attain success in this league, and he’s benefited from it. As he goes about his business … he’s doing it in a systematic way that’s going to allow him to be the best player he can be for the Browns, but also in a way that’s going to allow others to grow with him.”