On Monday night, Browns quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel will share first-team reps equally. The winner starts Week One against the Steelers. The loser is guaranteed to walk upright and without a limp on the morning of September 8.
Coach Mike Pettine confirmed to reporters on Friday the the “target date” for picking a starter is Tuesday, baring “something unforeseen.” And the decision won’t be made solely by Pettine.
“It’ll be a group of us,” Pettine said. “It’ll be [quarterbacks coach] Dowell [Loggains], [offensive coordinator] Kyle [Shanahan]. We might involve [General Manager] Ray [Farmer] just to kind of listen and observe. There might be another guy or two in there.”
Oh, there will be another guy in there. And while he may not state a preference between Hoyer or Manziel, the owner of the team — Jimmy Haslam — won’t need to. He will have made his preference known through advance discussions with Pettine, Farmer, and possibly others.
That’s one of the privileges of being the Boss. The Boss doesn’t have to say what he wants. The people who spend time with the Boss know.
Pettine naturally downplayed the possibility of Haslam influencing the decision. Again, one of the privileges of being the Boss is not having to play the “Boss” card. They’ll know who Haslam prefers; they probably already do. And if they don’t do what they think he wants, they’d better hope it works.
Of course, they’ll always have a chance to change it. While the leash won’t be a short one, Pettine made it clear that the starter will be wearing one.
“I don’t want whoever the starter is to feel like, ‘Oh, if I make one mistake I’m out.’” Pettine said. “I also don’t want him to feel like, ‘Hey, I’ve achieved something. This is my team for the year.’”
It will be the starter’s team for at least a week. If he can survive Pittsburgh.