Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel both played in the Cleveland Browns’ final preseason tuneup against the Chicago Bears on Thursday night, and nothing happened that would make head coach Mike Pettine regret naming Hoyer the team’s starting quarterback. Manziel was once again inaccurate on many of his throws, completing just 6-of-17 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. Hoyer was 6-of-8 for 68 yards in limited action.
Manziel did rush four times for 55 yards, which kept reporters wondering if he will play at all against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1. Pettine wouldn’t rule it out.
“It’s something we’ll discuss,” he said after the game, via Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot. “I don’t know if that’s necessarily something just because of tonight. We’ll have discussions on how we want to game plan and how we want to use those guys. I think one of the reasons that Brian (Hoyer) and the first team did look better tonight is because we didn’t mix the reps and he got all the reps with the No. 1s. A big part of tonight was getting those guys playing together and getting that cohesion.”
Talk about sending mixed signals. If Pettine was so impressed with the way Hoyer gelled with the first-string offense, he should commit to one quarterback and not have Hoyer worrying about being able to establish a rhythm in the regular season opener. But Pettine couldn’t seem to close the door on Johnny Football, noting that he likes the contrast in styles between Hoyer and Manziel.
“I do because it’s worked in this system before where (offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan) has had dropback passers and then a talent like (Robert Griffin III),” Pettine added. “I think it’s a very similar situation where he can bounce back and forth between the two styles and play to the strengths of the guy that he has in there.”
To his credit, Hoyer said he would be fine with Manziel getting some snaps against Pittsburgh if it helps the team win. In all likelihood, Pettine simply doesn’t want to tip his hand. He wants the Steelers to have to prepare for Hoyer and Manziel, though it’s not like they have to plan for Peyton Manning and Michael Vick.
Given how shaky Manziel has looked and the fact that the game is on the road, I’d be shocked if he played at all against the Steelers.