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Pettine: Brian Hoyer 'knows he needs to get better'

Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine knows he needs more from his starting quarterback to survive life in the rough-and-tumble AFC North.

Brian Hoyer has struggled to move the ball through the air while battling miscommunication with his receivers along the way. Pro Football Focus has the team ranked second-to-last in the NFL in passing after three preseason tilts, while Hoyer's 5.3 yards per throw ranks lower than 71 other quarterbacks during the month of August.

"He knows what he needs to work on," Pettine said on a Sunday conference call, per The Plain Dealer. "We need to play better around him. I think that's important. I mentioned that last night. Sometimes the quarterback gets held accountable. He's out there with 10 other guys and they need to be functioning as a unit, fully functional.

"You can have one guy break down that can ruin a play. But Brian knows he needs to get better, needs more live-game reps, and that's the one positive thing about having a short week, we know we didn't play well, but we can go out there Thursday and get the bad taste out of our mouths."

Pettine insisted there was "no sugarcoating" Cleveland's bad night against the Rams -- a 33-14 defeat -- but expressed confidence the team would put together a "good game plan" and "put our players on offense in the best position to be successful" when the Browns travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers in Week 1.

Johnny Manziel's numbers have been no inspiration, either, but the rookie showed a live arm against the Rams. He looked more confident, too. With the first-round pick still mastering the playbook, though, this is Hoyer's car to steer into the madness of the regular season.

The Browns haven't seen one quarterback play an entire 16-game slate since Tim Couch pulled that trick back in 2000. Based on the evidence at hand, we don't expect that grisly factoid to be challenged this autumn.

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