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August 19, 2014 - Mike McLain
It should be an entertaining 4 p.m. conference call with Browns coach Mike Pettine, to say the least.
It’s easy to know where to start. Pettine had planned to make a decision on a starting quarterback today, but he left the door open to waiting until after Saturday’s home game against the St. Louis Rams.
After the debacle that was Monday’s 24-23 loss to the Washington Redskins, Pettine would be wise to wait. How could he seriously announce that either Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel won the competition after such poor showings?
The play of the two was a continuation of much of what has been witnessed in practices – poor throws, miscommunication and tons of dropped passes. You can count on one hand the number of touchdowns that have been scored in 11-on-11 drills that didn’t start in the red zone.
Hoyer was 2-of-6 for 16 yards. His biggest miss was a throw behind a wide-open Andrew Hawkins for what should have been a touchdown.
To his credit, Hoyer was harder on himself than was a disappointed Pettine. He said his play was “embarrassing.”
Hoyer’s overall performance since the start of camp has been puzzling. Although he has just four career starts, this is his sixth NFL training camp. If he’s truly ready for the opportunity, you’d assume that he would have taken a strong grasp on the job by now.
Hoyer claimed after the game that he isn’t feeling pressure. That’s hard agree with when you’ve watched him on a daily basis since the start of camp.
It’s surprising to see Hoyer perform so poorly. He seized the moment after being named the starter when Brandon Weeden was hurt early last season and played like a legitimate NFL quarterback. His performances before suffering a season-ending knee injury mirrored steady play on the practice fields as a backup to Weeden and Jason Campbell.
Where does one begin with Manziel, who was slightly better at 7-of-16 for 65 yards? He looked mechanical early and was off target on several passes. He was given extended time in the third quarter and settled into a better rhythm and produced a touchdown on an 8-yard shovel pass to Dion Lewis.
Pettine’s concern today has to be Manziel’s immature act of extending his middle finger to the Redskins’ bench in the third period. Manziel said it was a momentary “lapse in judgment” and assumed full blame.
Doesn’t Manziel realize that his every move in life – on and in social settings off the field – is being watched? ESPN probably had one camera focused on Manziel the entire night in anticipation of something controversial happening.
He gave them their money shot, and now we’re once again questioning his character and lack of discipline. He said more than once during camp that he’s learning and being careful, but he also said that he’s not going to change. He might want to re-think that approach after what happened Monday.
The look on Pettine’s face during the game was one that we’ve seen from all six previous head coaches since the expansion season of 1999. You know look. The one that should have a caption below reading: “What have I gotten myself into now?”
Pettine hoped to have a quarterback in place today. Don’t count on that happening.
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