Browns’ QB coach learned his lesson
CLEVELAND – Dowell Loggains learned the hard way that you can’t go home again.
The Browns quarterback coach thought he could be himself and make a few casual comments during an interview with an Arkansas radio station shortly after the NFL draft last May. He soon found out that the comfort of dealing with a home-state radio station couldn’t cover up everything that came out of his mouth when the topic was Johnny Manziel.
During the interview, Loggains related details of a phone call he had with Manziel on the first night of the NFL draft. He said that Manziel, anxious to see his name go off the board as the end of the first round neared, implored the Browns to draft him, saying, “Let’s wreck this league together.”
Audio excerpts of the interview quickly made the way throughout the NFL. Needless to say, Browns coach Mike Pettine wasn’t pleased with his quarterbacks coach.
“He paid his penitence for that,” Pettine said. “We made him wear a visor that said ‘I’m a dummy’ for a day during the spring. We took a picture of it and put it up in the meeting room.
“He learned a valuable lesson that when you think it’s comfortable and it’s back home and a small radio station and not that many listeners, that not everything is sacred. It’s going to get out. He came to me today and warned me that he’s doing media.”
The interview grew legs because it was the first sign that the Browns might have more than they bargained for when they selected Manziel 22nd overall. They hoped to introduce Manziel into the league like every other rookie, but that plan vanished when Loggains was too informative about his conversation with the rookie from Texas A&M.
It’s been much more silent since training camp opened. Manziel has been the ultimate professional by saying all the right things during interviews and acting like a rookie around teammates. Loggains did his part by doing nothing during a session with reporters after Tuesday’s practice that would result in having to wear the visor again.
“I really haven’t looked back,” Loggains said. “I just focus on the competition and what’s going on now on a day-to-day basis.”
Next to offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, Loggains might have the highest profile of all the assistants. No one spends more time in meeting rooms and on the phone with Manziel than Loggains, who served as the Tennessee Titans quarterbacks coach from 2010-12.
It’s partially his job to take Manziel’s improvisational style and try to fit it into the box that is the NFL. It’s a daily challenge that has shown some progress but is far from being complete.
Loggains followed the organizational script and described the competition as being close.
“It’s day to day,” Loggains said. “I’m not going to comment on who’s ahead because it’s not time to make that decision yet and we have a long process until we do. They’re both getting better every day and doing really good things.”
There’s a sense that Loggains, who played quarterback at the University of Arkansas after a prep career at Abilene Cooper High School in Texas, would like to see Manziel be more Johnny Football than a prototypical NFL quarterback. Manziel had six carries in a little more than one quarter of play against the Detroit Lions last Saturday.
“The fine line in coaching Johnny is you can’t take the best part of him away, and that’s his ability to extend plays with his legs,” Loggains said. “I thought he did an exceptional job in the game of doing that. He had one where he started scrambling and out of the corner of his eyes he gets to the fourth guy on the progression and makes a good play throwing to Terrance (West). That tells you where his growth is as a quarterback. He’s starting to get to his third and fourth progressions.”
That’s exactly what Pettine and Shanahan want to see.