BEREA--Mike Pettine officially stopped the presses on naming Johnny Manziel as the Browns starting quarterback this week after ESPN announced the news nationally earlier on Monday that Manziel would be named the starting quarterback for the final four games of the season.
That might very well still be the case, but Pettine said the decision hasn’t been made.
“I’m not prepared to name a starting quarterback for Sunday yet,” Pettine said. “I’ve had preliminary discussions. I know there are reports out there as early as last night that had a decision being made. That’s not the case. I can speak for Flip (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) and Kevin (O’Connell). We have a couple of meetings scheduled (later today), but I haven’t spoken to the quarterbacks yet. That’s where we are with that.”
Pettine said the coaching staff doesn’t start to formulate what they’re doing for upcoming games until Monday night. He said the coaching staff will meet Monday night and plans to make an announcement on Tuesday.
“We’re not going to wait until Wednesday,” he said. “More than likely, Tuesday at some point, (the decision will be announced). The quarterbacks always come into the building on Tuesday. I’d like to get a chance to sit down with each of the guys individually. That’s what we usually do.”
Pettine said the violation of trust issue with Manziel will be talked about in the discussion.
“When we talk about (the quarterbacks), we hit the re-set button and throw everything on the table,” he said. “It will all be discussed.”Pettine was asked if he felt Manziel has learned his lesson.“I hope so,” he said. “It’s a better question for him, but I hope so.“As I’ve talked about before, when he’s been in the building it hasn’t been an issue,” he said. “He was on point this week, in his role.”
It is assumed that Manziel will return to the field after sitting out the last two games. On the season, Manziel is 76-of-128 for 933 yards (59.4 pct.) with five touchdowns and two interceptions. His rating is 88.4. Manziel has started three games for the Browns this season and has played in six overall contests. He started in one of the Browns two wins, a 28-14 win over the Titans.In his last start against the Pittsburgh Steelers-- a start in which Manziel threw for 372 yards and a touchdown-- Pettine said the growth of the quarterback on the field was clear, leading him to trust Manziel as the starter.After Manziel was named the starter for the rest of the season, he was involved in an incident during the bye week and a coverup lie that returned Josh McCown into the starting lineup against Baltimore. After McCown broke his collar bone against the Ravens, Austin Davis finished the game out and started last Sunday against the Bengals. Davis was 25-of-38 for 230 yards with no touchdowns and one interception and a rating of 71.2.Pettine said that he feels that four games is more than enough time to evaluate Manziel as a quarterback going forward.
“It depends on how those games go,” Pettine said. “We have to make sure that we support our quarterback. We have to play well around our quarterback, but four games is a quarter of a season. That’s a good chunk of time. I think we already have a sense of where he is from a football standpoint. He’s done some good things and has shown progress and that’s encouraging. We’ll see how it plays out.”
Brian Hartline, one of the two wide receivers to finish Sunday’s game, is excited to get re-united with Manziel on the field.
“(Manziel’s) been doing some great things on the football field,” Hartline said. “I’m excited to play with Johnny again.”
Hartline said he understands why the move is being made back to Manziel and said he doesn’t see it as a knock on Davis.
“Before (the coaches) mentioned they wanted to see both guys play to be evaluated,” Hartline said.
Hartline had eight receptions for 83 yards against the Bengals, including a long catch of 18 yards. On the season, Hartline has 38 receptions for 416 yards with two touchdowns.
Regardless of who is at quarterback, the Browns have moved the ball, but just failed to convert into points, particularly touchdowns after being held to just a field goal against the Bengals.
“We’re not scoring enough points. Overall, I haven’t dove into the numbers, but at times, actually the majority of the time, we moved the ball up and down the field, but we shot ourselves in the foot probably four or five times once we crossed the 50, go into the 40-, 30-yard line. Obviously, we’re playing at a point right now with kind of no reason to hold to hold anything back. Some fourth-and-shorts that we didn’t convert and kind of laying it all on the line. When you do that, you turn the ball over in that part of the field, that’s not good, but overall, we’re just not turning two-thirds of the drive into any points and that’s not good football.”