Last night’s exhibition game against the Redskins was supposed to help the Browns’ coaching staff determine which quarterback would start for the team in Week 1, but neither Brian Hoyer nor Johnny Manziel did anything to impress. While third-stringer Connor Shaw racked up 123 passing yards on just nine passing attempts, Hoyer and Manziel combined for 22 pass attempts and only accumulated double-digit yardage (81).
Meanwhile, it was a single digit – namely, the middle one on Manziel’s right hand – that dominated most headlines, after the rookie gave the finger to Washington’s sideline in a moment of frustration. Speaking to Peter King of TheMMQB.com, head coach Mike Pettine indicated that incident probably wouldn’t be a factor in his decision on the team’s starting quarterback, but added “it will be dealt with.” As for his signal-callers’ performances, Pettine confirmed that the game didn’t make his decision easier.
“I don’t know,” Pettine said. “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.”
The team likes Hoyer, who was solid when healthy last season and has several years of experience as a backup on his résumé. But Hoyer has only thrown 192 regular-passes during his NFL career, so it’s not as if he’s all that more experienced than Manziel, who was drafted in the first round and figures to start sooner or later. Whether the rookie is ready to step in and play right away remains to be seen, and Pettine’s decision will ultimately depend on how far along the team feels Manziel is.
What do you think? Will the Browns play it safe and go with the veteran option in Hoyer, or roll the dice with the higher-upside option in Manziel?