AFC North Notes: Pettine, Manziel, Haden, Ravens

Browns head coach Mike Pettine has been reluctant to trust quarterback Johnny Manziel during their two years together, but whether the coach returns for a third season could be determined by Manziel’s performance over the next three weeks, Tom Reed of writes. If Manziel plays well and convinces ownership his development is on the right track, Reed believes it could save Pettine’s job. That’s probably going to be too much to ask, though, as the 3-10 Browns’ last three opponents – Seattle, Kansas City and Pittsburgh – are a combined 24-15 and could all end up in the playoffs.

Regardless of what ultimately happens to Pettine, he gave a very positive assessment of Manziel on Monday, per Mary Kay Cabot of

“He puts in his preparation so he grinds in the meeting room. He asks great questions. He brings up good points. Guys respect that. They can tell when he talks that he’s getting into that information when he’s out of the building and it carries over onto the practice field.”

More on the Browns and a division rival:

  • Despite Manziel’s improvement this year, there’s still a strong chance he’ll be in another uniform next season. The Browns are likely to have a new regime and will have a high pick in the 2016 draft, which could put them in position to select a big-time QB prospect. “Johnny clouds the issue if he is there,” an anonymous executive told ESPN’s Mike Sando (Insider required). “You want it to be the new kid’s team.” For what it’s worth, Sando expects teams to be interested if the Browns do shop Manziel in the offseason. Sando names Dallas, St. Louis and Philadelphia as clubs that might be willing to trade a mid-round pick to Cleveland to acquire Manziel.
  • Star Browns cornerback Joe Haden landed on injured reserve Monday after concussion issues cost him the lion’s share of the 2015 season, but he expects to be his normal self by next year. “Although I haven’t been able to clear protocol, the specialists I have met with have told me they expect a full recovery. I’m looking forward to that, returning to form, having a good offseason and an even better 2016 season,” Haden said in a statement, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.
  • The Ravens’ chances of returning to contention in 2016 look bleak, Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun opines. As Preston points out, the Ravens have a less-than-ideal cap situation and plenty of important areas to address – left tackle, cornerback and pass rusher among them.
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