With QB Johnny Manziel ruled out for Sunday’s Cleveland Browns game, and former starter Brian Hoyer also unavailable, Cleveland will resort to an undrafted rookie. The Cleveland Browns news wire on Friday said the Browns to start rookie Connor Shaw against Baltimore.
For a team that had quarterback controversies in the preseason and many related debates for 15 weeks, the decision to start an undrafted rookie QB in Week 17 is as surprising as it is appropriate. Shaw spent 16 weeks on the Browns practice squad while Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer duked it out for the Browns’ starting quarterback position.
Although Manziel got the start for the past two games, he injured his hamstring at the end of a run last Sunday and left the game. Since then he’s been placed on the injured reserve.
Hoyer, the Browns’ starting QB for most of the season, is also injured with a deep bruise to his right shoulder and bicep.
Connor Shaw isn’t a household name to most NFL fans, and in fact he probably isn’t all that familiar to fans in Cleveland either. As of 7pm Friday evening, Shaw didn’t even have a listing on the team’s official roster page on NFL.com.
The omission is understandable. Shaw has spent the entire season on Cleveland’s practice squad, and his only action all year came in the preseason. Even then, his time was limited. Shaw’s game against the Washington Redskins saw him complete 8-of-9 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown.
Browns coach Mike Pettine acknowledged that the Browns don’t have a strong chance with Shaw at QB against the Ravens. However, his comment wasn’t meant to be belittling.
“You’re starting an undrafted rookie quarterback. I don’t think we’re going to look to go down there [to Baltimore] and win 41-38. We need to be along the lines of 3-2.”
According to reports out of Cleveland this week, the Browns have known Shaw would get the nod for much of the week. Apparently Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan told reporters that he jokes about Shaw’s 4.66-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, which was actually marginally faster than Manziel’s 4.68.