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Pettine defends Browns’ handling of Manziel

Manziel Getty Images

To anyone who suspects that the Browns’ supposed quarterback competition has been aimed at managing the man named Manziel who’ll inevitably win it (he probably already has), your suspicions are correct.

In a sit-down with Jim Corbett of USA Today, coach Mike Pettine defended the team’s decision to not make Manziel the starter right away in a way that seems to imply that, despite the ruse, Manziel is the guy.

“When people criticize how we handled it, what’s the alternative?” Pettine said.  “Would it have been more prudent for us the night we drafted him to name him the starter?  And have him come in here and let the media have access to him every day and have a huge press conference for him?  Handle him that way?”

That explanation arguably confirms our (or at least my — I haven’t polled the staff yet) suspicion regarding the extent to which offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s experiences with Robert Griffin III have influenced the Browns’ decision to try to keep Manzielmania under control, both from the perspective of limiting media attention and ensuring that Manziel will be coachable.

In Washington, Griffin’s power and influence over the fan base and ultimately the owner made it much harder for Kyle Shanahan and his father, Mike, to get Griffin to do what they wanted him to do on a consistent basis.

Cleveland’s approach also has been influenced by Pettine’s first-hand experiences with then-rookies Joe Flacco in Baltimore and Mark Sanchez in New York.

“[O]ur philosophy all along is build the best team and minimize the importance of the quarterback,” Pettine said of the 2008 Ravens and 2009 Jets. “And then, when you do get a great one, now you have something special.”

Pettine’s reference to his prior stops makes us (or at least me — I haven’t polled the staff yet) even more confident Manziel will be the Week One starter, unless he performs far worse than expected in training camp and the preseason.

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20 Responses to “Pettine defends Browns’ handling of Manziel”
  1. edavidberg says: Jun 14, 2014 10:31 AM

    The guys need to stop talking. They aren’t cut out for the mind games they should stick to coaching.

    Its fine to start Manziel as a number two but when you give him the starting job before training camp starts you just look like you are a liar.

  2. harrisonhits2 says: Jun 14, 2014 10:32 AM

    Browns would be fools to start this kid right away when he can get seasoning behind Hoyer. Hoyer is a competent player who learned how to study the game from Brady. That’s what Manziel needs time to learn from Hoyer.

  3. joeflaccoallday says: Jun 14, 2014 10:39 AM

    He defiantly starting now Week 1 now that I heard this. Too obvious.

  4. bcboncs says: Jun 14, 2014 11:04 AM

    All this article is saying is that they have no intention to draft Johnny and then tell him he’s the absolute starter without having to compete. It’s obvious to the team, the town, and Johnny that he will eventually start but the question is “WHEN?”

    He may start at some point during the season but I would be a bit shocked if it was Week 1 because I do not think he is a better QB than Hoyer. He still has to read the Playbook.

    I hope the best for Johnny as a Browns fan and I want him to lead the team but I don’t really think it is wise on Week 1. That would be similar to putting Josh Freeman in to start when he was signed by the Vikings.

    We’ll see how preseason goes and that will most likely determine the true starter. If Johnny has glaring issues in preseason and cannot motivate the team on drives, then I suspect Hoyer will start Week 1.

  5. lemmetalkwouldya says: Jun 14, 2014 11:14 AM

    How many times since the draft have we seen Pettine and the Browns defend manziel’s character and behavior?

    Does anyone else see this ending badly someday?

  6. soundguypat says: Jun 14, 2014 11:34 AM

    Total reach. All Pettine is “implying” is handing Manziel the starting job from day one would damage his development and the Browns investment in him. There is absolutely nothing in the above quote that refutes the fact that there is a quarterback competition going on Berea. Everything else is pure speculation…and not even shrewd speculation.

  7. ipounddawgs says: Jun 14, 2014 11:37 AM

    The national media creates these stories because they didn’t have a chance to interview Manziel during the Brown’s mandatory OTAs and they are under a deadline to keep adding fuel to the Manzielmania fire.

    Anyone that follows the Browns would be very surprised if Manziel started over Hoyer. Yes, Hoyer has been a career backup, but while learning under the likes of Brady and Bellichick he understands what it takes off the field to be successful. At this point, and almost certainly by the start of the season, Hoyer is a better professional with a more adept ability to read defenses and quickly make decisions. His hard work in the classroom should serve as an example for Manziel so that he can maximize his natural ability through preparation.

    Year one under this coaching staff will try to create a Browns team that more resembles the Seahawks – strong defense and uphill running game – than it will a pass happy team with a prominent QB. This gives Manziel an opportunity to continue to learn from the bench. They don’t need to start him as a rookie on the road in Pittsburgh in their 1st game, when what they want to do is run the ball and play great defense.

    The coaching staff and front office do not feel pressure to start Manziel. Keep in mind he was the second 1st round pick for the Browns, courtesy of the Colts taking the plodding Trent Richardson off their hands. The Browns free agency and draft were focused on creating a downhill running game, and strengthening their 10th ranked defense, Manziel was dynamic player they were able to grab late in the 1st round of the draft.

    Hoyer will start the season knowing that he must play at a high level. And if he doesn’t, the national media will get what they want.

  8. j0esixpack says: Jun 14, 2014 12:26 PM

    That’s too bad for Hoyer. He showed that if healthy he could start for a lot of teams.

    If it were me I’d make Johnny Football be Johnny Waterboy for a few games before letting him start. This is a developmental season for the Browns anyway

  9. laxer37 says: Jun 14, 2014 1:19 PM

    Mike Pettine talks way too much. Why does he constantly feel the need to give daily depth chart updates 82 days before the season opener?

    Quit defending every decision you make and be a leader.

    It’s embarrassing.

  10. qdog112 says: Jun 14, 2014 1:42 PM

    Pettine is spinning, nevermind the man behind the curtain (Haslam) who drafted the guy that neither Farmer nor Pettine wanted.

    Remember, it was a text to the QB coach and a homeless friend that landed Manziel in Cleveland. Pettine is doing the best he can … the only thing he can. (and keep his job)

    If Haslam wants him to start, he will start, but no need to wait. Johnny will not learn or mature by waiting. We’ve seen his best and he is NOT a franchise QB and holding him out won’t change that.

  11. abninf says: Jun 14, 2014 1:58 PM

    So I hope this means that Manziel won’t make a new personalized logo as a “gift” to the fans like Griffin.

  12. iamdinguskhan says: Jun 14, 2014 2:13 PM

    Browns are over thinking this. No matter what Manziel is going to draw press and attention if you are going to start him let him get the reps. The Browns and Manziel will just have to learn to live with the attention. This coaching staff and the management of this team is going to doom Manziel.

  13. boctavious says: Jun 14, 2014 2:50 PM

    i wish the browns would just stop talking about this. don’t let the media get to you. take a cue from former browns coach bill belichick and stop talking! So sick of this. Let Brian Hoyer start the season and let Manziel watch and learn until he’s ready or Hoyer gets hurt.

  14. whoknowsnothing says: Jun 14, 2014 9:22 PM

    Manziel will start the season, but Hoyer will finish the season as starter, unless Hoyer excels in the preseason!!!

  15. ytownjoe says: Jun 14, 2014 11:29 PM

    Hoyer starts if healthy. Hoyer.keeps job as long as team wins. Which may not be long because without Gordon, the receiving corps will struggle.

  16. All-American Voltron says: Jun 15, 2014 2:29 AM

    But how much control and humility did they actually exercise on Manziel when everyone (including Manziel) knew it was all a ruse and the Browns had every intention of starting him from Week One? This entire charade was a waste of time and just makes Pettine look like an even bigger idiot who thinks he was being clever. Forget about wondering if Manziel is the answer, you Browns fans should be more concerned about your bonehead coach …

  17. denverdude7 says: Jun 15, 2014 9:15 AM

    Manziel is every coaches nightmare come true.

    A player drafted as a directive from a meddling owner who has no football background.

    A talented party boy that values partying in Las Vegas and Texas more than making a good impression on the teams veteran players or trying to improve himself a little quicker by studying game film or a playbook during his “downtime”.

    No matter how Pettine spins this situation no coach wants to be in this kind of position.

    This is just common sense to anyone not still wearing a dog mask and barking until they lose their voice.

  18. oldcracker says: Jun 15, 2014 12:54 PM

    I believe this will be a year of painful growth for my Browns.

    The defense should be lock to dominate the NFL. However, Pettine will take his lumps as he learns to be a Head Coach, not just a coordinator. On top of that, everyone, especially the media, will be second-guessing his every move. He will not be able to do anything right.

    We are going to an entirely new Offense. Last year, the Browns were “airing it out” with literally no running game. This year will be “run first” with zone blocking and blocking TE’s. We’ll see how that all works out.

    This next year a lot will fall on Truck-stop Jimmy and how he “shoulders” the fall out. He HAS to support his new regime, right or wrong. (think Chuck Noll)

    Hopefully, by 2015 we’ll have ironed out any bugs , completed the rebuild with the draft, and have Josh Gordon back. Now, after the last 15 yrs, that’s something to look forward to!

    In Ray we trust!

  19. mrfrostyj says: Jun 15, 2014 8:04 PM

    The thing I don’t understand is when people comment that they wish the Browns would stop talking about it as if they’re walking up to anyone who’ll listen to them to talk about Johnny Manziel. NFL forces teams to talk to the media and if they don’t the guilty party can be fined up to $50,000 (See Marshawn Lynch).

    Fact is once they drafted Manziel they got all the national publicity that came with him and every national reporter they talk to is going to ask the same questions and they will ALL be about Manziel. The local Cleveland reporters are going through the same thing with Mary Kay Cabot now almost being the official Manziel “instagram/twitter” reporter for the networks. If you actually listen and/or read the words of both the Browns coach and G.M. they try to downplay the QB competition as much as possible. They normally give a one line truthful answer. It’s the reporter that will take the one comment in the entire interview about Manziel and create an ENTIRE ARTICLE about it.

    The only other option is to act like Bill Bilichick when Tim Tebow was in Patriots camp and literally just answer every reporters question with “I don’t want to talk about that”. A multi-superbowl winning coach can get away with that. Not a first year coach trying to make a name for himself.

  20. shadylamp says: Jun 15, 2014 11:45 PM

    The author really thinks he can change the outcome of who starts in the NFL but posting these types of stories. If I mention his name directly, he will delete my comment. Hoyer is better than Johnny now, in fact I was at a banquet with Schwartz. He said that Hoyer can read and diagnose the defense quickly to hit the right check down, he said something Weeden could never do which is why he got sacked all the time. Johnny can’t do that yet so Hoyer will start, barring injury.

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