During his talk with the media on Tuesday, Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine said that veteran quarterback Josh McCown will be the team’s starter on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers if he’s healthy enough to play.
“Josh McCown started the season as our No. 1 quarterback,” Pettine said. “He’s been out due to injury and potentially is coming back.”
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is also expected to see McCown on Sunday even though the quarterback reportedly failed to practice on Tuesday because of the rib injury he’s been dealing with that prevented him from playing in Week 9.
“We are anticipating and preparing to defend Josh McCown,” said Tomlin during his Tuesday press conference. “Johnny Manziel has played some but when you look at the tape it’s obvious that Josh is their guy. His tape and his statistics show that. He’s done a good job for them this year. He is the No. 1 passer in the NFL on third downs. I think he has a quarterback rating of plus-130 on third downs. So possession downs are going to be big. We didn’t do enough on possession downs a week ago. We have to do more on possession downs in this game.”
McCown is indeed the best the Browns have as he has managed to complete 65% of his 254 pass attempts so far this season for 1,897 yards with 11 touchdowns versus just 4 interceptions. Tomlin, however, knows that because McCown’s status is iffy, his team better also be ready to face Johnny Manziel, who has already made two starts this season.
“We have to prepare for the change that would occur if Johnny would play,” said Tomlin. “They are some subtle changes. We will prepare accordingly. But the vast majority of our preparation will be geared toward defending and minimizing Josh and what he does. Both guys are extremely mobile and are capable of creating. I think their play selection reflects that mobility in both guys.”
The Steelers are 8-0 against the Browns at Heinz Field since Tomlin has been the head coach. If he’s to push that record to 9-0 on Sunday, he’ll need to do so with his own backup as Landry Jones is expected to start in place of the injured Ben Roethlisberger, who is currently sidelined with a left foot sprain.
So, what does Tomlin want to see out of Jones in his second-career start?
“I want to see him win,” said Tomlin.