Despite Mike Pettine's decision, Bucky Brooks still believes Johnny Manziel is a better option at quarterback than Brian Hoyer. **READ**
"He was the clear leader from the beginning," coach Mike Pettine said in a press release. "We've maintained all along that if it was close, I would prefer to go with the more experienced player. Brian has done a great job in the meeting rooms and with his teammates on the practice field and in the locker room."
The decision leaves first-round rookie Johnny Manziel staring up from the No. 2 spot on the depth chart after both passers struggled mightily through Cleveland's first two preseason games.
Hoyer hardly won the job on the field. He couldn't hit the side of a barn in Monday night's loss to the Washington Redskins, finishing 2 of 6 on the night for 16 yards. His pair of completions came within feet of the line of scrimmage as the sixth-year veteran saw his throws sail over, below and behind his targets.
Manziel, though, failed to separate himself, struggling to move the ball and seeming underwater in Kyle Shanahan's terminology-heavy offensive scheme. The No. 22 overall pick didn't help himself with a nationally televised flip of the bird toward Washington's trash-talking bench, but that alone didn't seal this decision.
Pettine told the team's official site that he considered Hoyer's overall "body of work," pointing to the passer's three regular-season wins last season and the way he prepared himself throughout the offseason. The coach, though, acknowledged on Tuesday that Hoyer -- like Manziel -- remains a rookie, in essence.
Pettine told Carucci that he didn't want to stretch the process out another week, choosing to give Hoyer and the first-team offense maximum practice time leading up to Week 1.
The decision doesn't rule out Manziel seeing snaps against the Steelers as a subpackage quarterback, but it's a clear indication that Cleveland's coaching staff hasn't been impressed with the early handiwork of their franchise-quarterback-in-waiting.
As it is every year in Cleveland, we're bound to see more than one starter before Christmas -- maybe even before Halloween. This story is far from over.