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Mike Pettine: We have two capable starting quarterbacks

Posted Aug 10, 2014

Browns still weighing Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel

Mike Pettine addressed reporters Sunday afternoon via a conference call and after reviewing the film of the Lions’ preseason game, the Browns’ head coach said he feels the quarterback competition between Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel has yet to be decided.

At this time, no starter has been declared for the Washington Redskins game next week on Monday Night Football.

“I thought they were both solid,” said Pettine. “It was good tape for both of them. I think they both operated efficiently. If there was a clear-cut favorite at this point, it would probably mean one of them wasn’t playing very well. It’s a good problem to have, having two guys that we think are both capable of being NFL starters.”

Hoyer received 24 reps on Saturday, while Manziel saw 25. Hoyer engineered two scoring drives while Manziel produced one – all three ending in Billy Cundiff field goals. Both showed their unique skill sets; Hoyer standing tall in the pocket and finding miscues in the defense and open receivers while Manziel flourished outside of it with his feet and displayed the kind of fastball throws he can make.

Pettine said both quarterbacks should’ve been nervous going into the game. This was Hoyer’s first live action since tearing his ACL nine months ago against the Bills. And obviously, this was Manziel’s first ever NFL contest.

For his first ever live game situation, Pettine was proud of the way Manziel handled himself. The playbook, the play clock, getting his teammates lined up and calling the right motions were all things the rookie did well with.

“He’s really gone from one extreme to the other,” said Pettine of Manziel’s ability to manage the offense.

That being said, Pettine listed several successful NFL quarterbacks who started their careers on the bench. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Colin Kaepernick is quite the list of guys who were able to absorb regular NFL action from the sidelines, before being thrown into the fire. There's also Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco and Andrew Luck who had instant success.

When it boils down to the final decision on which quarterback will start Week One in Pittsburgh, Pettine reiterates the coaching staff’s formula for their choice is actually a simple one.

“Who gives us the best chance to win?” said Pettine. “That’s the bottom line.”

Additional notes

  • If there is a unit Pettine seems to be most thrilled with, it’s the first-team offensive line. Detroit has one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. Brian Hoyer also said he didn’t even get touched last night – the unit was that good.
  • Craig Robertson and Chris Kirksey are entrenched in possibly the tightest training camp competition battle on the team. Pettine hinted they both might be sharing the job in certain packages. Robertson has also shown the ability to play the MIKE linebacker spot, Karlos Dansby’s position, if the Browns want to get creative and use all three.
  • At wide receiver, Pettine noted Andrew Hawkins as having a “good day” and Anthony Armstrong “was solid.”
  • Pettine said the Browns were precautious in sitting out Justin Gilbert (groin). If it had been a regular season game, Gilbert likely could’ve played through it.
  • All other injuries from the Detroit game are minor, according to Pettine.

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