Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine has decided to stick with quarterback Brian Hoyer for Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts instead of replacing him with rookie Johnny Manziel.
Pettine said his decision derived from Hoyer leading the Browns to a 7-5 record, adding that Manziel simply hasn’t played enough with the first-team offense: “The fact that [Manziel] hasn’t had the lion’s share of game reps, you almost look at it as a risk-reward situation.”
Noting Manziel’s performance against Buffalo, when he led an 80-yard drive for a touchdown against a prevent defense late in the Browns’ 26-10 loss, Pettine said, “It was close and it was difficult because of how [Manziel] played, but we arrived at the decision to stay with Brian. We saw flashes of what he was capable of. The fumble was regrettable, but the first drive was good.”
He added that the coaches had “lively discussions, but at the end of the day, we all agreed this was the way to go…. After thorough evaluation and talking to the staff, we feel Brian gives us the best opportunity to win on Sunday. This is a football decision, and those are always going to be based on what we think is best for our team. Brian has led our team to a 7-5 record. I’m confident that we can get the entire offense playing at the level needed to accomplish the goals we set at the beginning of the season. Those goals are still very much attainable.”
Pettine opined that he’s sticking with Hoyer, who will be making his 13th consecutive start, for “the fact that he’d been in there. He was a part of our success. He wasn’t perfect. He’s made his share of mistakes, but he has us in the playoff hunt, and that was the biggest determining factor.” He acknowledged that Hoyer’s play has been spotty, but “we’re confident he can go out there and lead us to a win.”
The coach answered questions as to whether Hoyer was on a short leash by stating, “I’m not going to put any more pressure on the situation.” When he told both QBs his decision, he said that “they both took it as you would expect.”
Pettine said the players with whom he spoke approved of his decision. One source informed ESPN that Manziel could start the final three games of the season if the Browns lose on Sunday.