Mike Pettine recently stated in his press conference Wednesday that he could ‘sense' Johnny Manziel's frustration with lack of playing time.
Now, this is to be expected. This is a kid that started as a redshirt freshman at Texas A&M, won a Heisman trophy that same year (first freshman to ever win a Heisman), had a very successful collegiate career, and then was drafted in the first round. He's gone from THE guy, to being just a guy. The media however leads you to believe otherwise.
The quarterback discussion in Cleveland has been a talking point daily. I get it, it's become tiresome. But, the fact that there's some publicized frustration now over Johnny Football's playing time is a new stepping stone in the Cleveland Browns QB Debate. We knew we'd get here eventually, it was just a matter of time.
This, to me, is not so much a debate, but a question. My question is, if things go sideways, meaning (God forbid) a loss to the Buccaneers and then a loss to the Bengals in their next two games, what do you do then? Sure, it's no fun to think about losing those two games, but what do you do if you're sitting at 4-5?
This obviously hinges a lot on another quarterback, Brian Hoyer. Through the first five games the Browns' offense looked like an offense we'd not seen in a long time. They were running the ball at an incredible clip, taking shots down field, putting up points. Then all of a sudden, they stalled. Is that Brian Hoyer's fault? Not entirely, but he certainly has contributed. The run game has been non-existent the past two weeks. Blame it on the Alex Mack injury, fine, but the truth of the matter is the offense will need fixed if the Browns are expected to compete. And part of fixing said offense, is getting better QB play.
So what does the state of the current Browns' offense have to do with Johnny Manziel? Not much, really. He's only played five snaps so far. There was also no mention by Pettine that the aforementioned Manziel frustration was effecting the team at all. You do, though, have to wonder.
As I posed earlier, what if this thing does go sideways? When is it time to park the Brian Hoyer bus, and move on?
Personally, I wanted the Browns to draft Manziel, but I'm pulling for Hoyer. Not only is it the smart thing to do right now, but also the rally behind Hoyer from the fans and team has been downright awesome. Sure, that's corny, but the ‘Hoyer the Destroyer' signs, and ‘American Hoyer Story' shirts are phenomenal. The city believes in him (for the most part). So while Pettine may sense the frustration of Manziel, that was to be expected at some point.
The Browns next games are as follows: vs. Tampa Bay, @ Cincinnati, vs. Houston, @ Atlanta. With the way that those four teams are playing, they are all winnable games. The Browns will need to find some resemblance of their offense from the first five games, and keep the defense from the last game. If they're able to find that recipe, there will be no need for the Hoyer/Manziel discussion.
Pettine did mention that they "briefly" floated the idea of playing Manziel in mop-up duty against the Jaguars. So there at least is some indication that Hoyer's leash is shortening. I would venture to guess that while Pettine believes that Hoyer is the Browns' starting quarterback, that it's on a semi-weekly basis.
For me, Hoyer's time as the Browns starting quarterback comes down to these next four games. Play well, and the job is his. Should the Browns stumble and drop a few, then the Manziel discussion can be revisited. But, I'm really hoping Hoyer gets back into a rhythm and can make it to Atlanta as the starter for the return of Josh Gordon. If the Browns, say, go 2-1 or even win their next three heading into the Falcons game, the back-end of the season could be a whole lot of fun.
Because at the end of the day we wouldn't be talking about the Cleveland Browns if we weren't yelling about quarterbacks and hinging the season on Josh Gordon's return.