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.