Browns looking for a shred of positive news

 

CLEVELAND  — Eli Manning has started 194 consecutive games for the New York Giants, a remarkable run of durability that has kept them relevant for more than a decade.

At this point, the Cleveland Browns would settle for one QB making it through a full game.

Since making his first start on Nov. 21, 2004, Manning has not missed a game, the longest streak among active NFL players — at any position — and the third-longest for a quarterback in league history. Only Brett Favre (294) and Manning’s older brother, Peyton (227), have been as sturdy behind center.

Let’s compare that to the Browns, who have gone through 21 starting QBs over the same span.

In their game notes, the Giants erroneously stated the Browns have used 24 starters in Manning’s era.

But, hey, who’s counting?

“I don’t really know how to take that,” Manning said earlier this week when told about the stunning disparity as the Giants (7-3) prepared to visit the Browns (0-11), whose quarterback carousel has been whizzing at a record rate in 2016.

Today, quarterback Josh McCown returns to Cleveland’s starting lineup, replacing rookie Cody Kessler who sustained his second concussion in less than a month last week and is only playing this season because the Browns can’t protect any of their quarterbacks.

They’ve started three and Cleveland has used six QBs in 2016 if you include wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, who started nine games as Oakland’s quarterback in 2013 before changing positions to salvage his career.

The revolving door at quarterback has only made things more challenging for Browns first-year coach Hue Jackson, who was already strapped with an inexperienced roster and has been forced to adjust on the fly.

For now, Jackson can only dream of stability.

“He is out there all the time,” Jackson said while praising Manning’s toughness, timing and accountability. “That is what gives you a chance to be 7-3.”

As expected, Manning downplayed his steadiness and spread around the praise for his permanence to others the same way he dissects a defense.

“I obviously give credit to my offensive line and running backs, receivers getting open quickly,” he said. “I try not to hang back there too long and take too many hits. I know I work hard in the offseason on flexibility and strength and knowing my protections and having a plan on my pass reads and try not to take unnecessary hits. I want to be out there each and every week for my team, for my ownership and coaches and try to put us in a situation to win each game.”

Here are some other things to note as the Browns try to end the worst start in their 66-year history:

BE CAREFUL: The Giants have never faced a team as bad as the Browns — record-wise.

New York hasn’t played a 0-11 team in its rich history. The closest was a matchup with a 0-10 Dallas team on Dec. 4, 1960, a game that ended in a 31-31 tie. The Giants are 9-3 against teams 0-4 or worse since the 1970 merger.

Still, New York coach Ben McAdoo has been preaching to his team the importance of not taking the Browns lightly.

“The records in this league, you can throw out the window,” he said. “Cleveland is a young and improving team. They are hungry to win. A lot of ballgames come down to the very end, a handful of them are within a score. We need to be ready to go.”

RG3 AND OUT: Robert Griffin III returned to practice this week and the quarterback could return and play in one of Cleveland’s last four games.

The 26-year-old broke a bone in his left shoulder in the season opener, a setback that only reinforced the notion he’s injury prone. Griffin, who signed a two-year deal with Cleveland, still needs to be cleared for contact, but the Browns have a bye next week, giving him more time to get ready.

HEY, BROTHER: The Nassibs are reuniting over the holiday weekend.

New York backup quarterback Ryan Nassib has never lined up across from his brother, Browns rookie defensive end Carl Nassib, and that won’t happen unless Manning is hurt or taken out. Still, the brothers are excited to be on the same field for the first time.

Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton joked that this week’s goal is for Carl to sack Ryan.

“That has always been a dream of mine,” Carl said.

BALL HAWK: Giants safety Landon Collin is on a roll. The second-year pro from Alabama has five interceptions in the past four games, including a game-changing touchdown return against the Rams in London on Oct. 23 and a game-saving pick last week to close out the Bears. He’s the first Giants player with five picks in a four-game span in a single season since Willie Williams in 1968.

“He just has a nose for the football,” McCown said. “He flies around, plays physical and is a really intelligent football player. I certainly understand why people would be putting his name out there for the player of the year on defense because he shows up on tape.”

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