Skip to main content

Mike Pettine not ready to name Browns' starting QB

The Cleveland Browns have a major decision on their hands at quarterback, but coach Mike Pettine isn't ready to pick between struggling veteran Brian Hoyer and rookie Johnny Manziel.

"We're going to meet on that here in the coming hours," Pettine told reporters on Monday. "I'm not prepared to comment on it at this point due to the fact that I have not spoken to both of the players involved."

Pettine called Cleveland's passing game in Sunday's crushing 25-24 loss to the Colts "substandard for a lot of reasons," adding that Hoyer "missed some throws" inside an offensive performance the coach called "wildly inconsistent."

NFL Media's Albert Breer reported Monday that the team is taking a hard look at starting Manziel against the Bengals on Sunday, according to a pair of Browns sources. No timetable has been set on choosing between the two, but Breer was told that a decision could come as early as today.

Pettine said Manziel would "absolutely" be ready to play if anointed as the starter.

Hoyer told reporters Monday that he hasn't "been told anything" about his fate and was "still preparing the same way."

Pettine obviously won't rush to help Cincinnati prepare, but after seeing Hoyer throw zero touchdowns and seven interceptions over his past three games, it makes sense for the Browns to see if Manziel can light a fire under the offense.

The rookie did exactly that in Week 13 against the Bills with an electric eight-play, 80-yard scoring march capped by his 10-yard touchdown burst. Manziel showed nimble feet outside the pocket and looked sharp through the air, throwing the ball with more velocity than Hoyer, who on Sunday couldn't take advantage of a rough-and-tumble Browns defense that generated four takeaways, scored 14 points and hit quarterback Andrew Luck 13 times.

The Browns' D had as many takeaways in the second half as Hoyer and the offense had first downs over the final 30 minutes. The veteran passer repeatedly overthrew open wideouts, prompting Pettine to say Sunday: "You can't (miss opportunities) against a good team, especially in an atmosphere we felt like was a playoff game."

Hoyer was the first to acknowledge on Monday "how fast things change" in the NFL. A month ago he was presiding over a 6-3 team sitting alone atop the AFC North. Today the Browns hover on the brink of extinction, with Hoyer's hopes for a long-term deal all but washed away.

Whether or not the Browns truly feel comfortable handing over their season to a rookie is debatable, but Hoyer has given the coaching staff little choice. It's time to see what Johnny can do.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Sunday game from Week 14 and discusses the Seahawks' return to Super Bowl form. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content