The Cleveland Browns played their first competitive football game of the Johnny Manziel era on Saturday. Granted, it was a preseason game, so to call it “competitive” might be generous, but it was still an NFL game against a real live opponent.
All it took was that one game and the quarterback controversy has already gained a lot of momentum. Incumbent QB Brian Hoyer started and played fine: 6-of-14 for 92 yards. Then Manziel took over and he was also fine: 7-0f-11 for 63 yards. Neither took a firm hold of the job, and neither crashed and burned either.
Still, a glimpse of Manziel and some of the electric plays he can make was enough to stoke the belief that the controversial rookie will surpass Hoyer and win the job. With those grumblings already underway, Pettine did little to quiet the noise on Sunday afternoon when asked about his quarterback situation for the team’s second preseason game on August 18th.
#Browns HC Mike Pettine said coaches still have not decided which QB will start Aug. 18 at Washington.
— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) August 10, 2014
Generally the coach’s best bet to stomp out a controversy, whether he means it or not, is to say in no uncertain terms that the current starter is the starter and will remain the starter. Pettine did offer support for Hoyer, but still left plenty of gray area.
#Browns coach Mike Pettine says Hoyer “has done nothing to have (his lead) taken away from him. But Johnny has made a lot of improvement.”
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 10, 2014
It seems reasonable to think that Hoyer will at least get the start in the second preseason game, but it appears that things are very much subject to change with the NFL’s most-hyped rookie and his role for the upcoming season.