Pettine on Manziel: "This isn't a dead end. This is a hurdle"

Mike Pettine isn't ruling out that Johnny Manziel will once again become the starter before the season is over

BEREA—Stop the presses.

Johnny Manziel’s time with the Browns might not be over.

After Mike Pettine demoted Manziel to third-string on Tuesday, he didn’t close the door on Manziel playing again this season.

“It’s in the short term, things can change,” Pettine said. “But I think a lot of it is how it gets handled. Theres nothing….last week we made (Manziel) the starter for the rest of the season. We all  saw how quickly that changed. the NFL landscape is obviously a very fluid one.”

Even if Josh McCown does not get injured, Pettine wouldn’t declare him the ongoing starting quarterback. 

“Josh McCown is our stater,” he said. “Austin Davis is our two and Johnny is our three. I won’t speak beyond that right now. Things can change. as far as declaring a starter for the rest of the year, I want to see how this plays out.”

Pettine said cutting or releasing Manziel was not discussed after the second-year quarterback's most recent off-field incident.

Pettine admitted if Manziel doesn’t play the rest of the season it will have an affect on the team’s evaluation of him as the team’s  quarterback for the future going forward.

“It does,” he said. “It does have an impact. We do have a much better sense than we did a year ago. I think from a pure quarterbacking play standpoint, the arrow is up, but I didn’t want that to be a deciding factor in this. ‘Well, let’s not do anything because we need to see.’ This was too important. This was too important and it was something that, it’s regrettable, but we feel we had to do.”

Pettine also said that all aspects of Manziel will be taken into consideration when trying to decide Manziel’s future in relation to the Browns, including the trust issues. 

“I think all of it,” he said. “When we’ll make decision in the future, you’ll always take into account the circumstances that come with it. You can’t make those decisions, as I referenced before, in a vacuum. We feel that he’s made vast improvements from a football standpoint, but still has a ways to go in some of the other aspects.” 

Pettine had a prepared statement that he explained why the move was made before he took any questions in his press conference with the media.

“On the decision that was made (Tuesday), we’re always going to do what is best for the team,” Pettine said. “In all the decisions that we make. The position of quarterback is always going to be held to a higher standard than any other position on the team, that’s the reality. It’s not just about talent. It’s not just about what you do on the field. 

“To be successful at the position requires a great understanding of what’s involved in the non-physical aspects, the leadership, the trust, the accountability, the responsibility, the diligence,” he said. “You have to take the mentality that no one is going to outwork you. That has to be understood at the position at this level. When you have a great opportunity in front of you, it’s important you prove that you can handle the responsibility that comes with it. I cannot emphasize enough the trust and the accountability piece. This is where we had an obvious short coming.”

Pettine said the organization is still standing behind Manziel, including Jimmy Haslam and Ray Farmer.

“I discussed this in great length with them and we’re all very much on the same page,” Pettine said. They supported the decision whole-heartedly.”

Pettine said the organization wants what is best for Manziel, as well as the Browns. 

“As I said (Tuesday), everyone in the organization wants what is best for Johnny,” Pettine said. “He has shown tremendous improvement, but he’s got to make better decisions. We’re going to continue to support him and help him in every way, if possible to get him where he needs to be. This is a decision that I know for him, in particular, stings in the short term, but feel it’s absolutely necessary to maximize his chance for future success.”

Pettine said he and the coaching staff will be watching how Manziel deals with the demotion.

“This is a heavy does of adversity and we’ll see how he handles it.”

When asked if Manziel has played his last football with the Browns, Pettine responded:

“I certainly hope not,” Pettine said. “He’s made great progress and there’s no better proof than last Sunday against Pittsburgh, but sometimes you have to take a step back and take a few forward. We told him this (Tuesday), this isn’t a dead end. This is a hurdle. it’s an obstacle.Part of success in athletics is adversity and this will be an example of it.”

Pettine said he isn’t worried about the affect of benching Manziel might have on his future as Browns head coach.

“Not concerned about— I’ve talked about that before,” he said. “I don’t factor decisions that I make, how it would affect my job. It’s part of it. It’s part of it. We’ve got 60 plus players and it’s daily, dealing with the good and the bad, that’s part of it. You love what you do. I wake up every morning and excited about coming in here. I know there’s stuff in the negative that you got to deal with, but I don’t view this that way. I see it as a challenge. I think we all, we want what’s best for our team. We want what’s best for our players. We talked about it, we want what’s best for him.”

Extra Points

Ravens Still Respectable, Despite Record: Despite being 3-7, the Ravens are 11th in the NFL in offense and 18th in offense. Contrast that to the Browns who are 27th in offense and 30th in defense. However, the Ravens have lost their top three weapons on offense in QB Joe Flacco (knee), RB Justin Forsett (broken wrist) and WR Steve Smith (Achilles tendon).

No Injury Updates: With the Browns playing Monday Night, they are not required to post an injury report, but Pettine said there was nothing new on that front.  DB Joe Haden (concussion), WR Andrew Hawkins (concussion), and WR Taylor Gabriel (concussion) are still in the NFL’s concussion protocol. OL Joel Bitonio (ankle) and DL Randy Starks (knee) were not practicing.


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