Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

Browns QB? Flip a Coin

Neither Brian Hoyer nor Johnny Manziel emerged as the clear-cut No. 1 quarterback after disappointing performances on Monday night. But does it really matter who coach Mike Pettine picks? The answer, plus more reader mail

All along, Browns coach Mike Pettine wanted to name a quarterback entering the third week of the preseason. The third game is when all NFL teams play their first units the most all summer. In the case of a new coaching staff such as Cleveland’s, it’s the best chance to get a good look at what September will hold.

Not so this preseason. The Browns got poor quarterbacking (9 of 22 combined) from the contenders for the starting job—incumbent vet Brian Hoyer and bird-flipping rookie Johnny Manziel. Coach Mike Pettine told me early this morning he hasn’t made up his mind about his starting quarterback for the Sept. 7 opener at Pittsburgh.

“I don’t know,’’ he said, not long before the Browns boarded their charter to return to Cleveland. “Neither guy really distinguished himself tonight, and we’ll have to go back and study the tape and figure out who to go with. I will lean on [offensive coordinator] Kyle Shanahan and [quarterback coach] Dowell Loggains quite a bit, because they’ve watched them every day.’’

I asked: “Do you have a gut feeling right now?”

Mike Pettine (Evan Vucci/AP)
Mike Pettine (Evan Vucci/AP)

“I don’t. I don’t,’’ said Pettine.

Who can blame Pettine? Each quarterback entering Monday night knew the starting job was on the line. Each quarterback had chances, plural, to move the team. Each quarterback was grim in doing so. In the first three quarters, Hoyer, who started, and relief pitcher Manziel had eight possessions, and they ended thusly: punt, punt, punt, punt, field goal, fumble, halftime, turnover on downs.

On the ninth possession of the night, Manziel finished a 63-yard drive with a touchdown pass, but that came against the second- and third-teamers of Washington. Not conclusive.

Hoyer did nothing on the first two series of the game, and then Manziel matched that, throwing a low pass that hit the ground in front of tight end Jordan Cameron on the first series and throwing behind wideout Josh Gordon on the next possession. Pettine wanted to come away from the night convinced. Instead, he came away confused. He wouldn’t commit to anything Monday night—not when he would make his pick for starter, or whether each man would go into Week 3 of the preseason still dueling for the job.

Pettine said the two players came into the game “fairly close. Brian probably got more time early in practice with the ones, but Johnny got quite a bit. We’re going to go back and look at that, plus how they did tonight.’’

Now a couple of things about the second-half episode of Manziel flipping his middle finger in anger at the Washington bench. As much as Manziel was under a microscope at Texas A&M on and off the field, he’s got to realize it’s going to be more intense in the big leagues. He should assume that, when he’s outside the tunnel, either on the field or on the bench during an NFL game, there’s always going to be a camera focused on what he’s doing. Even in the moments a TV camera isn’t, a fan’s smart phone might well be. So he’s got to live his life with that in the back of his mind, to prevent what happened Monday night—and also to prevent one of the classic moments in the brief history of Vine: When Manziel was told by Browns PR aide Rob McBurnett that a camera had caught him making the obscene gesture and it was out there, everywhere, Manziel looked aggrieved, then ran his hand over his face as if to say, “I am such an idiot.’’

Pettine told me what he told the media after the game, that he was “disappointed’’ in Manziel and “that can’t happen.’’ But he also made the point that I think is an important one. Paraphrasing: An opponent can’t know the quarterback has rabbit ears. And he’s right.

“Will this event have anything to do with your decision on the starting quarterback?’’ I asked.

“I wouldn’t think so,” he said. “But it will be dealt with.’’

More Browns
What’s going on in Cleveland? The MMQB’s writers bring you a season preview, a camp report and much more on the Hoyer-Manziel QB battle. 2014 Browns Camp Hub.
I could see the Browns going either way, and if they go with Hoyer, they’d have him on a very short leash. I don’t see the danger in going with Manziel if the Browns think he’s ready Sept. 7—for one simple reason: He’s old beyond his years, and he won’t be so cowed by failure that it would set him back on a course to be a good quarterback in the NFL. Hoyer’s a career backup, and it’s unlikely he would be grievously wounded by losing this job.

“It’s a tough call, obviously,’’ said Pettine.

That’s why coaches in the NFL make the big money. But no matter who Pettine chooses, it’s not permanent and it’s not that big of a deal. No fan who has watched the first two preseason games would be upset that the coronation of Manziel would have to wait. The city’s already excited.

Now for your email:

ON THE SIDELINE TABLETS. You wrote, ‘The teams are not allowed to do anything with those tablets other than view still pictures and draw on the screens. No video, no internet connection.’ Without internet, how are they getting the images? I assume the tablets are jailbroken to allow custom settings? Would be quite interesting, especially given the bit of tech talk you introduced in the 49ers stadium discussion.

—Josh

I am told that these particular Microsoft Surfaces are exclusive to the sidelines, and the devices operate in a closed system during games that allow photos to be transmitted from inside the stadium to the devices on the sidelines—25 of which are supplied to all NFL teams on game day as part of Microsoft’s partnership with the league. As far as how the images are delivered to Surface tablets, each one is equipped solely with a proprietary ‘Sideline Viewing System’ software and connected to a secured stadium network, which allows teams to receive the images in a matter of seconds. Each tablet provides near real-time color images of each series. Compared to the previous system of printed black-and-white photos, these images on the tablets provide enhanced detail as well as the ability to zoom in and out and focus on any area of the picture, making teams more efficient and productive in making adjustments during games. Nothing else other than the photos are allowed.

MARK WANTS A TEAM IN SAN ANTONIO. You wrote: ‘The San Antonio Raiders? Puh-leeze.’ What’s with the slam on San Antonio as a pro football venue? I can tell you as an Austin native that I would LOVE to have a pro team in San Antonio so I could actually go to a game now and then. Houston and Dallas are too far for me to consider without staying the evening somewhere, whilst San Antonio is a 1.5-hour drive with moderate to heavy traffic. San Antonio, Austin, and both of their respective suburb ‘cities’ are growing much faster than Houston or Dallas. There would be more of a market than most appear to think.

—Mark V.

It wasn’t a slam on San Antonio, and sorry if it seemed that way. It was more a slam on the ever-itinerant franchise in Oakland. There’s a hole in Los Angeles, and the league wants that hole to be filled, and it just makes the most sense to me that the Raiders fill that hole.

INTERESTING QUESTION. Hey Peter, long-time reader and have a question about something that makes me nervous. Watching preseason games, I noticed that there were advertisements being digitally displayed on the field. After a little googling, turns out this is the result of the NFL selling rights to local television stations, to which the local stations can advertise what they wish. Do you see this as a precursor to what’s coming? Perhaps slower and less obvious, like a “1st and 10″ marker with a “Lexus” backing?”

—JT, San Antonio, Texas

Camp Epicenter
Get team-by-team previews and camp reports, along with other features and analysis from The MMQB's writers, in the 2014 Training Camp Hub.
Good question, JT. I hadn’t noticed it so far. The way I look at it is this: Does it really bother you, or make the telecast significantly worse, if the first-and-10 line is “sponsored by Lexus?’’ I don’t care, really. Maybe it is creeping commercialism, but the NFL has been a commercial entity for years, and I don’t know how the first-down line, for instance, being sponsored is going to change that appreciably.

THE VALUE OF PRESEASON FOR COACHES. Can you lend some insight into how coaching staff makes decisions on whether second-string and third-string players make the team? They may look great in preseason, but since they’re playing against lesser counterparts across the line of scrimmage, it must make the decision more problematic.

—W.M., Iowa City, Iowa

There are some teams that come to training camp with a good idea of the final roster—a good idea, but not set in stone. There are other teams that go to camp with a totally open mind. Tom Coughlin, for instance, usually has some undrafted guys (Victor Cruz) emerge as camp progresses. This year, one of those players is Brock Coyle, an undrafted middle linebacker from Montana in Seattle’s camp. I saw him Monday at practice, and he’s an instinctive, small (listed as 6-2 and 245, but he appears two inches and 15 pounds smaller), intense player. When Pete Carroll says he will let the competition of camp make his roster decisions for him, he’s somewhat right. But Coyle benefits from incumbent Bobby Wagner missing time with a minor injury, and he has made a very good impression; GM John Schneider told me before practice Monday, “Watch this guy.” I did, and he flies around, and if he plays well on special teams this weekend, he’s god a good chance to find a spot on the 53-man roster. The answer to your question is that undrafted guys are at a major disadvantage, and sometimes it takes an injury to have a prayer.

YOU MUST BE LISTENING TO PETE CARROLL. I can appreciate the NFL’s desire to crack down on defensive backs. My problem is that the penalties can be fairly draconian for what may be a ticky-tack call. I think automatic first downs for defensive holding, for example are excessive. If it’s 3rd-and-20, and a minor hold results in a first down that seems like too much of an advantage for the offense. Give them 10 yards and repeat the down. Do you think there will be a move to modify some of these penalties if holding and pass-interference infractions continue at a high rate?

—Kevin

I have wondered this for years, Kevin. I wish the Competition Committee would be willing to change the spot-foul calls. And I wish they would add the monstrous, game-changing pass-interference calls, which, on third-and-long, so often are too advantageous to the offense. Thanks for writing.

MMQB Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterback | Running Back | Wide Receiver | Tight End

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142 comments
LittleOne4u
LittleOne4u

Love reading your stuff Peter, but I can't be the only person thinking this idea.  "I would buy a ticket to the game just to hack into the Windows Surface hardware." Sorry but I'm a geek and that would be a fun challenge --cheers

GoPSULions
GoPSULions

Peter - its sad that you say Johhny should "act" a certain way because a camera or phone may be filming him.  He should be act a certain way because he has matured and believes it is the correct way to behave.  He should sit for a while because his behavior does not indicate he is ready to assume the responsibilities of being a starting QB in the NFL.  If he is going to get this rattled in a pre-season game, be late for meetings, make questionable party decisions, ... he seems to help make Pettine's decision.

Buck2185
Buck2185

Manziel is a spoiled, egomaniac, POS. He is just another in a long list of Cleveland Brown mistakes. Manziel will next get into drugs, drinking, gain 50 lbs, change his name to Jamarcus, and be out of football in less than two years

zzloz77
zzloz77

Peter King "downplays"-commercial creep-virtual ads-on TV because he needs ad revenue as well.

These CGI Graphics will be a distraction AND annoyance to the home viewer. We are already subjected to

constant breaks-wait 'til the flags start flying-and other on-screen ads and promos(CBS/FOX).

Just take a look at some Rugby/CFL/Soccer broadcasts-...3D-ADS !...Remember the good old days of 

blank NHL boards ?...Whatever they do will make the game look cheap and hucksterish.

picklejuice
picklejuice

Why not make Pass Interference calls like facemask calls are now? The ref has the option if it is a quick grab and let go of the facemask to only call a minor penalty, but if the head is moved around, then it can be called as major penalty.

KristinDiggins
KristinDiggins

Is it just coincidence, or does every offseason after Peyton gets smoked in a playoff loss result in tougher restrictions on DBs?

wonderand
wonderand

It's so strange to me that people get all bent out of shape about him flashing his middle finger and worry about how they're going to explain that to their kids. How about the constant replays of Paul George or Marcus Lattimore's injuries? Those were way more traumatizing and yet no one bats an eye?  Our values are weird.

parkbrav
parkbrav

I like Johnny Football, but I fear his ego will explode if he were named opening day starter

IdDoHannahStorm
IdDoHannahStorm

Judging by the picture above, Johnny can only hold up one finger at a time.

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

yet when richard sherman trash talks, everyone goes, oh that's just richard being richard, i mean if this had been a normal preseason game it probably wouldn't have been a big deal, but because it was mnf it was the only game, look i found what bud adams did to his fans much more offensive he gave them a 2 finger salute and got hit hard 250,000 and i think what will end up happening is max fine plead down because it's his first offense.  really what is really troubling is the browns using gordon as much as they have, as i think he gets a year ban, plus again remember he still has the dwi that hasn't even been heard yet and that the browns top guy in recpetions, will likely be cameron, as the other recievers they have there top pick up miles austin, has shown he's unreliable

Yipicya
Yipicya

People are on this because it's JFF.  The Redskins were jawing, he responded.  It's not the first time someone has flipped the bird during a game, it won't be the last.  I bet if he played in NY or for NE it would be called rogue-ish or gutsy.  He screwed up, I'm guessing it won't be the last.


RichardTodd
RichardTodd

This is football, people get excited, sometimes people get punched, kicked or bitten, giving someone the finger isn't a big deal in my mind. Why does the media have to turn a meaningless gesture into a federal case. Imagine the comments on the line of scrimmage or in a pile. Get a life.

djsancak
djsancak

It is interesting to see the NFL move to tablets. It makes great sense, but  I wonder how well they will work in direct sunlight. This is a shortcoming with most displays, but maybe they have made some technological improvements.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

Firstly, kudos to Mark V. for using the word 'whilst'. I've not seen that one in a while.

 Secondly, Peter, what in Manziel's behavior would cause you to say "He's old beyond his years"? As several guys have already pointed out, the opposite seems to be the case. Even for a 21 year old he seems remarkably immature. He gives the impression, at least to me, of a spoiled, coddled athlete, that gets social pass after social pass. The kind of behavior, in fact, that leads to knocking out women on elevators. Even if he develops as an NFL starter he will need to work on his conduct. And he is off to a very poor start. 

scott s1
scott s1

@GoPSULions this is Peters liberal policy of telling others what they should at any given time, even though Peter may not have any knowledge on a particular subject, he is willing to give us his uninformed opinion on it.  One thing that I loathe about him when I read his articles.

alcredlle
alcredlle

@CobyPreimesberger  Richard Sherman gets blasted by the media and idiots like yourself anytime he sneezes. Your football knowledge is as horrific as your English. 

JRuss
JRuss

Richard Sherman has proven himself in the NFL. What has Johnny done but talk?

Orange Crush
Orange Crush

@CobyPreimesberger Though I think he will get his suspension reduced to around 8 games I have to agree that it is odd to see him be such a big part of their pre-season gameplan. They need to be figuring out who all those passes are going to be going to once the real season starts. I think it really just has to do with their QB situation and them wanting to see who can best utilize their playmakers.

NickWright
NickWright

@Yipicya If he played in NE, he'd get ripped apart. People generally hate the Pats unless they're from Boston. Add to that the hatred people have for this kid (for reasons unbeknownst to me) and it would be nonstop "money-spygate" jokes all day.

ericwkillian
ericwkillian

The point is what his coach said, you don't want the other team to know they are getting under your skin

blynder
blynder

@RichardTodd

For some people it is a big deal because it is not a part of their regular life, and they find it vulgar, offensive, un-gentlemanly, what-have-you. It's not right or wrong, it just *is* and we have an opportunity to get a better understanding of one another and live in absolutes. Personally, I don't mind, but I'm also glad it gets blurred out (when it does) so my kids don't see it. If they do, we can talk about it for sure, but I'd rather not have to explain that during a football game.

Funny story (to me anyway) I was watching NFL one morning before work and they do these quick segments during commercial breaks where they go to the set to give the viewer a "peak" into the inner workings of the show. On this particular day, the inner peak was of Eric Davis and Terrell Davis (ED & TD) and another person whom I don't remember.  During the peak in, TD was having trouble with his mic for some reason and said over the airwaves "I can't get this thing to work…that $h!# is racial!" Hilarious, I laughed all day long.  Of course he was not serious, but it was just funny.

Mike26
Mike26

You obviously grew up in a much different way than many others did if you believe a grown man flipping the bird on national TV is no big deal.

blynder
blynder

@djsancak

I found this bit of the piece rather… what… annoying actually.  Wondering why it took the NFL so long to do something, use a technology that they have in grade schools. Some teams have been using tablets for some time; but it just seems like the NFL should be able to adapt a bit quicker.

Orange Crush
Orange Crush

@djsancak They have these things called anti-glare protective screens. They actually work quite well.

JRuss
JRuss

I noticed that, too, Rick. Immaturity is Manziel's downfall, coupled with an over-developed ego.

Orange Crush
Orange Crush

@Rickapolis I think PK was coming from a confidence standpoint, but I still disagree as well. The kid is an egomaniac that just doesn't seem to handle adversity well. The knocking out women on elevators comment was a bit much however.

Orange Crush
Orange Crush

@blynder @djsancak They have actually been using tablets for some time now it is just new to the sideline. I'm sure there were some logistical issues that needed to be worked out before they could allow for their use in this regard.

BushidoBrownsRevenge
BushidoBrownsRevenge

@Orange Crush @Rickapolis Wasnt Manziel arrested for being involed in a bar fight in college? Does not seem like much of a stretch. Seemed like more of stretch for a guy like Ray Rice who had previously been a model citizen. 

Mike26
Mike26

Agreed OC. I was with everything he said until the leap to knocking out women was made.

RIck, you've long been one of the more thoughtful commenters here but you've developed quite a dislike/distrust of Goodell that's created some sharp edges in your posts. Sometimes they're warranted, but sometimes they're not; I'm not perfect but I your hate outshines your insights sometimes.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

@Orange Crush @Rickapolis Yeah...I was stretching a point about lack of responsibility. And I'm still disappointed how the NFL and especially the Ravens handled that one.

blynder
blynder

@Orange Crush @blynder @djsancak

Yeah OC, that is what I was talking about - I know teams have been using them but as the NFL official, it seems kinda sad it took so long is all I'm sayin' ;)

Yipicya
Yipicya

@Mike26 PK regularly laps up everything the Ravens do.  Also he is usually pretty slanted against the Browns.  Probably from his time covering the Bengals.  He's as big a hack as Skip Clueless is.  I doubt his reaction would be the same if it were a Raven or Patriot player

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

@Mike26 You may be right, Mike. I appreciate your compliment, so, I'll take your critique to heart. 

Orange Crush
Orange Crush

@Mike26 In Rick's defense he is a Ravens fan and was rightfully disgusted with the whole thing. Just thought bringing a likeness between that and Manziel's behavior was a bit out of line.

MoeLarryAndJesus
MoeLarryAndJesus

@Yipicya @Mike26  PK reports positively on perennially successful teams like the Ravens and Patriots because they win.  He reports negatively about perennial losers like the Browns because that's what losers deserve.  I'm surprised I have to explain that.

Mike26
Mike26

@Yipicya @Mike26 Just think if Manziel played for the Raiders - PK woulda hung him out to dry!

Mike26
Mike26

De nada - I have some comments I re-read later in the day/next day

Mike26
Mike26

I appreciate that view - but the Goodell dislike goes back further than Ray Rice. Just miss some of his insights.

Mike26
Mike26

...and wish I hadn't posted them. At all. But such is life....

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

@Mike26 You're correct. My dismay with Goodell came when he called the name 'Redskins' an honor, and a term of 'respect'. I actually liked his toughness before that. But I saw that remake as a complete sell out. I still do. I find it impossible to trust or respect him since then.  

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