Cleveland Browns: Why Pettine was right to bench Manziel

The Cleveland Browns finally announced their starting quarterback on Wednesday.  There has been stiff competition between sixth-year veteran Brian Hoyer and former Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel.  Head coach Mike Pettine opted to go with experience and has given Hoyer the starting role for the season opener on September 7th against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Manziel, the most popular player in the NFL, is the fan favorite and reinvigorated a Cleveland fan base starved of success, but Hoyer is the man in Cleveland, for now.  Hoyer has said from the beginning that he was confident of locking up the starting position and has acted like it from day one.

Manziel is not out for good though.  “He’s a competitor,” said Pettine. “He wants to be out there. But he knows there’s some things he needs to work on. And it’s his job to press on and prepare every week like he’s the starter.” (Via Cleveland Browns)

Many are asking why Pettine made this seemingly unpopular choice.  How can you root against a Heisman winner?  How can you bench Johnny Football?  How can you choose a guy who simply doesn’t have the athletic ability that Manziel does?

Pettine chose Hoyer for multiple reasons.  Hoyer has had a better grasp on the offense since day one, and he is clearly more comfortable leading his team.  Hoyer is a grounded, responsible player whereas Manziel is not.  And recent history says to bet against young quarterbacks that are thrown into the fire too early.

Both Hoyer and Manziel struggled in the second preseason game against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football.  Pettine did NOT hand Hoyer the reins because of how he played in Washington.  Hoyer was abysmal, and Manziel wasn’t much better.

The short story is that Hoyer makes better football decisions.  He stays calm in the pocket more often.  He makes the right read more often, and he makes his decisions quicker.  Manziel hasn’t quite grasped all the mental aspects of the game yet, and no one wants to start a confused quarterback playing his first NFL regular season game against Dick LeBeau‘s Steelers defense…

Hoyer also makes better life decisions.  The Cleveland native has never gotten in trouble and keeps quiet.  Manziel is constantly making headlines for questionable decisions.  Parties, alcohol, and flipping the bird at the Washington bench are all Manziel headlines.  Manziel is a rookie who makes rookie mistakes both on and off the field.  He clearly doesn’t appreciate the opportunity he has yet, and he has some growing up to do.

Hoyer is not a superstar quarterback in the NFL, and Manziel has potential to become a great player before his career is up.  Pettine will constantly wonder when Manziel is ready to step in, but he was right not to start him immediately.  Here’s some fun facts about first round quarterbacks at the beginning of their careers.

First round quarterbacks are all expected to turn out like Andrew Luck and have stellar seasons to begin their careers.  Andrew Luck is the only first round quarterback drafted from 2010-2012 that has more winning seasons than losing seasons.  Luck’s two playoff seasons are the exception to the rule.

Sam Bradford, the 2010 number one pick, has yet to win more than seven games for his St. Louis Rams.  Injuries have plagued the former Oklahoma star, and time is running out for him to salvage some respect in the league.  Tim Tebow, also drafted in 2010, is now working for the SEC Network.  Tebow never started for a full season and ended his career by riding the bench behind Mark Sanchez.

The next year’s draft saw four quarterbacks drafted in the first round.  Cam Newton was chosen as the number one pick and earned a lowly 13 wins in his first two seasons.  Jake Locker plays for the Titans and has never played in more than 11 games during his first three seasons.  Tennessee has had a horrific offense since Locker came into town.  Blaine Gabbert led Jacksonville into selling all their home games to London and now rides the bench in San Francisco.  Christian Ponder is more well known for his wife Samantha and is no longer a starting quarterback in the NFL.

Robert Griffin III was drafted one pick behind Luck in 2012.  He led the Redskins to the playoffs in his rookie season and stunk it up in his sophomore campaign.  Brandon Weeden had two horrible seasons in Cleveland and now sits behind Tony Romo in Dallas.

Of the ten quarterbacks discussed, only one has had great success early in his career.  All of these players were thrust into the starting role in their first season, and it hardly worked out for them.

The numbers simply show that young quarterbacks need time to acclimate into the league, and that’s okay for the Browns.  Brian Hoyer earned his spot for now, and Manziel will take it when he is ready.


  • David Goldsmith

    i guess Johnny Football has a new nickname “after the great cincy reds catcher” Johnny Bench! LMFAO!! Go Hoyer keep him there all year! Go defense!! Lets get this season off with a win over the Shittsburg Peelers!!!

    • Ronald

      Ha! I like that “Johnny Bench” nickname. Good one. I think they made the correct decision in choosing Hoyer. We have a great defense, but they will get worn out (gassed out) like last year if the offense can’t stay on the field for longer periods of time. It would also help if we keep a coaching staff more than one season too; this to me is the second biggest problem with the Browns. We’re constantly changing offensive and defensive coaching and schemes. Bummer!!!!

      • David Goldsmith

        I agree, if we don’t have stability in the coaching staff, we will never have stability on the field. Hopefully Tate & West can provide a strong running game and Hoyer & his receivers can get some continuity, so we’re not having all these 3 & outs!! if so the defense will be able to do it’s job effectively!! The defense looks ready!! Now it time for the offense to step up this week against St. Louis & show us they are ready.