The Cleveland Browns have a new starting quarterback for the third week in a row. Thanks to a Josh McCown collarbone injury and Johnny Manziel’s poor decision-making off the field, former St. Louis Rams quarterback Austin Davis has been given the nod as Cleveland’s starting passer for their week 13 showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Johnny Bench

Head coach Mike Pettine said that Davis filled in admirably in a week 12 loss that saw McCown exit due to injury, and had “earned” the right to start this week. The news comes just over a week after Browns fans learned the team would demote Manziel, who had been handed the starting gig for the rest of the year prior to the team’s bye week.

It was apparently conditional. After a long discussion with coaches before leaving for the break, Manziel vowed not to “embarrass” or be a “distraction” while on vacation. Just days later he showed up in a video showing him partying at a club with alcohol in hand. Due to Manziel’s deceit and already spending time in a rehab facility following last season, the Browns cited “betrayal” and a lack of trust to start moving in another direction.

Pettine remained firm on the stance that Manziel’s benching wasn’t necessarily a “dead end”, but potentially more of a road block. Pettine did suggest, however, that Manziel’s future as the Browns’ starting quarterback would likely hinge to his behavior off the field.

Passing on Johnny

Many felt that with McCown going down and Manziel being punished with his demotion last week, the team would give him another chance and re-name him the starter ahead of their date with the division rival Bengals. That isn’t the case, as the more experienced Davis will be under center this Sunday.

The move is cause for uproar for Manziel fans, but Pettine has always been adamant about putting the quarterback on the field that gives Cleveland the best chance to win. Davis arguably does that, even if winning may not be the greatest priority for a 2-9 team that can’t make the playoffs.

With that being the case, many wonder why the Browns won’t just go back to Manziel to see if they have a franchise passer in him. Perhaps they will down the stretch. But at least for now, the Browns don’t think Manziel has learned his lesson and will opt for Davis instead.

Betting Impact

The funny thing is going with Austin Davis probably gives the Browns a better chance to pull off the upset. Cincy has been vulnerable lately with a couple near-losses and two actual losses. The Bengals have owned Manziel so far in his career, so perhaps throwing him out there would be a mistake, anyways. Davis isn’t a star, but he looked good on Monday night and did enough to get Cleveland a win. I still think the Bengals win, but Davis could help keep it close and get the Browns to beat the spread.

Manziel’s Future

The big question lingering with this move is, are the Browns just punishing/testing their young quarterback, or are they simply done with him? Many are connecting the dots that the Browns won’t start him again as long as they can help it and have already moved on. If so, the next question becomes¬†where¬†Manziel goes following the 2015 season. Manziel has been connected to the Dallas Cowboys in trade rumors since before he was even drafted, so that could be a logical destination. For now, Manziel and Browns fans can only wait. Manziel will still serve as the direct backup to Davis and if Davis gets hurt or struggles, it’s still possible we see Johnny Football on the field in 2015.

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