Pettine excited as Manziel era begins for Browns
BEREA, Ohio - The Cleveland Browns returned to work Wednesday and turned their collective attention to Sunday's game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.
It was the team's first practice day with rookie Johnny Manziel as the starting quarterback.
"I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't excited to see him play," Browns coach Mike Pettine said.
Pettine announced the switch from Brian Hoyer to Manziel Tuesday. He said last week a discussion of a change was "warranted" but decided to stick with Hoyer for a game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Hoyer threw two interceptions and posted a 31.7 quarterback rating. The Browns lost, 25-24, to fall to 7-6.
"The move was made just because of the lack of performance at that position over the last four games," Pettine said, later adding that a Monday meeting with assistant coaches about the switch "didn't last very long."
The Browns drafted Manziel at No. 22 overall in last May's NFL Draft. He's played in three games this season, twice in cameo appearances and two weeks ago played two drives in Buffalo after Hoyer was pulled for ineffectiveness. Manziel completed 5-of-8 passes for 63 yards in that game and ran for a touchdown. He lost a fumble for an apparent Buffalo touchdown that was ruled an incomplete pass by replay review.
He did not play in last week's game, even as Hoyer struggled. Pettine said after the Colts game he didn't consider a change in the game but needed just the next day to name Manziel the starter for a game he called "critically important." The 8-4-1 Bengals lead the AFC North by a half-game. The Browns trail by 1.5 games with three to play.
As for not making the switch last week, Pettine said he refuses "to look back and second guess."
Manziel and Hoyer competed for the job in training camp, though about two-thirds of the first-team reps through camp and three preseason games went to Hoyer.
Manziel brings athleticism and intrigue to the Browns huddle. Just getting in a huddle is still a new concept to him, though, as he piloted an up-tempo attack in two productive years at Texas A&M. In 2012, he became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy and was a finalist last season before declaring for the draft.
The Browns ran some zone-read option in the preseason with Manziel. Pettine said he appreciates Manziel's athleticism and freelance ability but said "every dropback pass...can't turn into a punt return. There has to be a balance.
"You don't want it to turn into street ball."