For a guy who lived through the Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow debacle in New York, Browns coach Mike Pettine doesn’t seem to be concerned about his quarterback competition in Cleveland becoming a potential two-man show. In fact, it looks like that’s what Pettine wants.
During his interview with Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com, Pettine said that the team is considering using Manziel as a Wildcat-style change-of-pace in his rookie year.
“We’ve already talked about it,” Pettine said regarding the possibility of using both Manziel and Brian Hoyer in the same game.
“We’ve already installed elements of it in the spring. We ran some of the zone-read stuff in practice and Kyle [Shanahan] incorporated some of the mobile quarterback elements of what he did in Washington. We’re still going to go back to the beginning in pads, but as we get going, some of the stuff that’s more game-plan-specific that we don’t want to show, we might work on in our walk-throughs as opposed to a public practice.”
Pettine wisely didn’t point to the Sanchez-Tebow experiment as justification for doing it.
“That’s how Colin Kaepernick got his start in the NFL, as a package quarterback,” Pettine said of the former 49ers backup. “On the other side of the ball, I’ve seen that give defenses some trouble. I think there’s positives and negatives to it. You’re taking your starter off the field. You have his rhythm and continuity to take into account, but at the same time defensively you’re now forcing a team to basically come up with two game plans. I mean, there are pluses and minuses to it and it’s something I’m sure will be discussed at some point.”
In theory, the Jets wanted Tebow because of the pressure that preparing for two quarterbacks puts on a defense. And if former offensive coordinator Tony Sporano had any faith at all in Tebow, the Jets may have actually used him.
The Jets and Pettine nevertheless got a first-hand look at the challenge of dealing with two quarterbacks in September 2012, when Kaepernick rushed five time for 50 yards and a touchdown coming off the bench and showing the Jets how to properly employ a two-quarterback system.
If the Browns could pull it off, the dilution of the ability of the opposing defense to fully prepare for each guy could help both guys thrive. The only downside is that, as Manziel has more and more success, more and more fans will be clamoring for him to be something other than a part-time player.