Pettine not ready to hit panic button
The Browns are still in a holding pattern with precious little fuel remaining in the tank.
Coach Mike Pettine said during a teleconference call Tuesday that the quarterback competition between Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel remains on-going. There was a chance he could have changed his mind last night and made a call.
If no decision was made as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, why make one a few hours later? Obviously, there’s more to be learned from both quarterbacks in two practices and a preseason game Saturday against the St. Louis Rams.
“When we talk tonight (Tuesday), I don’t sense a lot of division,” Pettine said. “I think there’s a lot of common ground with all of us. I want to be diligent and do the right thing. Don’t make it for the sake of making it.”
The quarterbacks aren’t making life easy for Pettine and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. The plan was to have a starter in place as of Tuesday so that he could get valuable first-team repetitions in the two weeks leading up to the week of the season opener.
What Hoyer and Manziel showed in the 24-23 loss to the Washington Redskins last Monday was anything but encouraging. They combined on a 9-of-22 showing for 81 yards and one touchdown in three quarters of work.
Hoyer had two series with the first unit and was 2 of 6 for 16 yards. Manziel wasn’t much better at 7 of 16 for 65 yards and an 8-yard shovel pass to Dion Lewis for a touchdown.
Knowing the concern shown by fans and the negative reaction of the media, Pettine attempted to soften all worries. He would have been better served to follow up on Hoyer’s post-game comments and call the performances “embarrassing.”
“It’s very typical in the NFL and the fan base where the sky is falling after a loss,” Pettine said. “It’s hard for a quarterback to look good when the guys around him aren’t playing well.”
Hoyer was the bigger of the disappointments. He’s not the 21-year-old rookie trying to grasp the intricacies of the playbook. He’s not looking at a NFL defense (as vanilla as they are in exhibition games) for the first time and thinking, “Wow, these guys are big and fast.”
Hoyer won’t admit it, but it appears the pressure of the competition has gotten to him. He doesn’t look anything like the productive player who helped orchestrate three straight wins as a starter last season (Brandon Weeden came off the bench early in a win over Buffalo after Hoyer went down with a knee injury).
The throw Hoyer would clearly want back was a miss to a wide-open Andrew Hawkins for what would have been a touchdown. Peyton Manning completes that pass 100 straight times with his eyes closed.
“Hawk (Hawkins) ran a great route,” Pettine said. “Got the guy to bite. Brian will be the first to tell you he needs to make that throw.”
The main news concerning Manziel was less about his performance and more about his middle-finger gesture towards the Redskins’ bench. Manziel admitted he lost composure after being taunted and took blame for the incident.
“We want to be a first-class organization,” Pettine said. “Thousands of players look up to our players, and that behavior is unacceptable. It’s extremely disappointing. He should know more than anyone that all eyes are on him.”
The quarterback conjecture overshadowed an uninspiring effort by receiver Josh Gordon, who’s awaiting word of his appeal of a drug-related suspension. Pettine played Gordon deep into the fourth quarter, long after the other starters were finished. More than once Gordon made a half-hearted attempt at catching a pass.
Pettine’s basis for playing Gordon so deep into the game was based on the need to keep receivers that will be on the field when the season starts rested. Pettine wasn’t pleased with what he saw of Gordon, saying he needs to give the same effort in the preseason that he does in the regular season.
Overall, it was a night in Washington that Pettine would just as soon forget, but he’s not stressing out about it.
“We’re not anywhere near hitting a panic button here,” he said.