Finally, at long last, the Browns have a date to name their quarterback. Decision day is Tuesday for Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel.
That’s when Browns coach Mike Pettine aims to announce his starter for Cleveland’s Sept. 7 opener at Pittsburgh. His choice could be influenced by how the quarterbacks play in Monday night’s nationally televised exhibition at Washington.
“Something unforeseen could come up, but we’re hopeful because I do want to see if I can cut the quarterback questions down by about 90 percent after next week,” said Pettine, a first-year coach who for months has faced questions about his quarterbacks. “The chemistry, the continuity, it’s important to establish that.”
On Thursday, Pettine said Hoyer will start against the Redskins on Monday night, with Manziel getting snaps with the first-team offense. Pettine isn’t sure how he’ll divide their time and will see how the game unfolds before determining when each is on the field. His focus is making sure the “reps are close to equal.”
Pettine also made it clear no decision has been made.
“All of our options are still on the table,” he said.
Does that mean Manziel, the popular rookie who helped the Browns draw record crowds to training camp, can still win the job?
“Sure he can,” Pettine said. “All of our options are still on the table. He just needs to go out and play, that’s the bottom line. They both do. I’ve met with both of them and discussed the situation and they’re both comfortable with it and they both know it’s going to be up to them, when they’re out there, to go out and do their job.”
As he has stated for months, Pettine will choose the quarterback he feels gives the Browns their best chance to beat their bitter rivals.
“You’re looking for the total package — the quarterback who is best suited to take the field and lead us to a win against the Steelers,” Pettine said. “That’s the bottom line decision we have to make. There will be a lot of things going into it.”
Pettine said he will consult with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains and maybe “another guy or two in there.” General manager Ray Farmer will be there “to listen and observe.”
Hoyer started Cleveland’s preseason opener at Detroit, with Manziel playing exclusively with the backups.
Pettine isn’t disappointed with the way the quarterbacks have played or that one hasn’t taken off and separated from the other to make the decision easier.
“They both started camp at a certain point and they’ve both made improvement,” he said. “I think they’ve both made big strides. When you look at it, I feel like we’re in a good position, we have two quarterbacks that we feel have NFL starter ability, which is why it’s a difficult decision.”
Whatever decision is made, Pettine knows it’s far from permanent.
“So much can change over the course of an NFL season, the circumstances,” he said. “That’s one position where you probably have to have a little more patience that others whether a guy is not performing at a level you think he can. I don’t want whoever the starter is to feel like ‘If I make one mistake, I’m out.’ I don’t want them to feel like, ‘Hey, I’ve achieved something and this is my team for the year.”’
Pettine would not confirm or deny a report Manziel was late to a team meeting this week.
“That’s internal business,” he said. “I’m not going to discuss stuff that happens. We like to keep stuff in the family.”
After being “tagged” by the Ravens and Jets, Pettine and several players took the ALS “ice bucket challenge” following practice. Manziel had two buckets dumped on him. ... Pettine also had a comment for New York coach Rex Ryan, saying, “Rex, I know you want to punch me in the face. Anytime you want to go toe to toe, you know where to find me.” ... CB Buster Skrine injured a thumb during practice. Pettine had not yet met with the training staff to know the seriousness. .... Pettine said DL Desmond Bryant (wrist) is waiting for a second medical opinion. ... WR Josh Gordon, awaiting word on his appeal with the NFL, has “a chance” to play against the Redskins. ... WR Nate Burleson will likely sit out Monday night. ... TE Jordan Cameron has been cleared to play.