Ravens Gear Up For Josh McCown, Not Johnny Manziel


The Johnny Manziel hype train has no scheduled stop in Baltimore this weekend. 

Despite losing the last two games, the Browns (1-3) will stick with veteran Josh McCown as their starting quarterback for Sunday's matchup at M&T Bank Stadium. Cleveland made the decision two weeks ago to keep McCown in the lineup even though Manziel started the team's only win of the season in Week 2.

While Manziel might win a popularity contest in Cleveland, McCown has shown the coaching staff probably made the smart decision keeping him atop the depth chart. He's carried the offense the last two games, throwing for 697 yards and four touchdowns with just one interception.

"He's been doing an awesome job," cornerback Lardarius Webb said.

McCown entered the season as the clear starter, but then went down with a concussion on Cleveland's first offensive series of the season. Manziel played the rest of the opener and then led the Browns to a 28-14 win over Tennessee the next week.

That victory, the first of Manziel's career, sparked discussion about whether he would replace McCown as the starter, but Cleveland went back to the veteran who won the job in training camp.

"It was really rooted in a decision that had already been made," Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine said.

Even though Cleveland lost to Oakland and San Diego the last two games, McCown is hardly to blame. He threw for more yards those games (341 and 356 yards) than any Browns quarterback in a single game last year. The last time a Cleveland signal caller threw for more yards was Dec. 2013, when Brandon Weeden had a 370-yard passing day.

The performances from the 36-year-old quarterback have strengthened his grip on the starting job, making it unlikely to see Manziel at all this week.

"I've seen a couple solid back-to-back outings and some good ball," Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said of McCown.

McCown is a known commodity amongst the Ravens coaching staff. He played under Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman in Chicago, and guided the Bears to a victory over Baltimore in 2013.

"If you go back to Chicago, he played really well in Chicago a couple years ago," Harbaugh said. "He has proven that he can play at a high level, and he's doing a good job."

The Ravens are clearly game-planning for McCown and how to stop him, but they also know Cleveland could mix in a wrinkle with Manziel like they did last year. The Browns tried a trick play with Manziel against the Ravens when Brian Hoyer was the starter, and the play went for 39 yards before a penalty wiped it off the board.

"I'm sure they might have something set up for him, because he's a great player," linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "Whoever we're going up against – whoever's in at the time of the game – we have to respect them and play our type of defense."

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