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Browns not ready to name starting quarterback

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 | 6:42 p.m. CDT; updated 7:17 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Washington Redskins inside linebacker Will Compton pursues Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel during the second half Monday.

CLEVELAND — This summer saga, packed with drama, celebrity and clumsiness, isn't quite over for the Browns.

Hoyer vs. Manziel marches on.

Cleveland first-year coach Mike Pettine still hasn't chosen his Week 1 starting quarterback, and that's not his fault. Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel haven't convinced him — or anyone, really — that they deserve the job.

Pettine had been expected to announce during a teleconference on Tuesday whether Hoyer, the inexperienced veteran and hometown hero coming back from knee surgery, or Manziel, the hyped rookie and former Heisman Trophy winner, would start the Sept. 7 opener at Pittsburgh.

But the decision has been delayed and it could carry through Cleveland's third preseason game on Saturday.

Pettine said Cleveland's coaching staff will meet Wednesday night and could then choose a starter. Maybe.

"We're not in position to make it at this point in time," Pettine said of an announcement many Browns fans have been anxiously awaiting for months. "We'll decide later if we're ready to name a starter. We could have one named, and I'm not ruling that out. That's something we're going to discuss. And if we do have to wait until after the next game, so be it.

"We're going to weigh everybody's opinion. I'm very clearly on record: I would like to make a decision, and that's still very much a possibility."

Pettine reiterated that "all options are on the table," meaning he could name Hoyer or Manziel or push a decision back until after the Browns host the St. Louis Rams in their third exhibition.

Pettine's choice grew much tougher after Hoyer and Manziel both played poorly in a 24-23 exhibition loss at Washington on Monday night.

Hoyer started and missed wide-open receivers and appeared to be buckling under the pressure of not being able to put an end to his competition with Manziel.

Hoyer finished 2 of 6 for 16 yards, hardly the numbers he needed to solidify starting.

"It was embarrassing," Hoyer said.

Manziel's most memorable moment may have been when he made an obscene gesture toward the Redskins' sideline, an act Pettine called "extremely disappointing" and will likely result in a fine from the NFL. When he was only using his right hand to throw, Manziel completed 7 of 16 passes for 65 yards one touchdown, which came against Washington's backups.

Pettine said the quarterbacks weren't the only ones who had unsatisfactory games.

"There were a lot of guys that had some plays they'd want to take back," he said. "I just think it was overall inconsistency on the offense. It's hard for a quarterback to look good when the guys around them aren't playing well."

As for Manziel getting caught on national TV flashing his middle finger at the Redskins, Pettine said that behavior — as well as the 21-year-old's other offseason conduct — will be factored into the decision on a starter.

"We'll take into account all things quarterbacks A to Z," Pettine said. "So it's body of work, it's everything from the time they set foot in the building back in the spring up until today."

Manziel said he was taunted by Redskins players and he responded not realizing the world was watching. Following the game, Manziel acknowledged "I should've been smarter."

Pettine has preached to his players about staying poised and Manziel didn't show any in responding to the trash talk he was hearing from Washington's defenders and bench.

"We talk about 'Play like a Brown,'" Pettine said. "We want our guys to act like a Brown and we want this to be a first-class organization. We have hundreds, thousands of kids come to our training camp practices and look up to our players and that type of behavior is unacceptable.

"It's something that's part of football that you have to maintain your poise and your composure, especially at that position and he should know better than anyone that all eyes are on him. I know it's something that will be addressed by the league and will be addressed internally."

Pettine, maybe more than anyone, wants the QB competition — and ceaseless discussion — to end. But he won't stop it until he's certain he's chosen the right quarterback to lead the Browns into Heinz Field in a few weeks. He knows the longer it goes, the harder it will be for Cleveland's struggling offense to build momentum.

"We want to get the decision right so that might be the risk-reward with it," he said. "If we want to make sure that we are diligent with it and do the right thing, then I don't want to rush it and make it for the sake of making it. Then, you're risking the chemistry and the cohesion if you have the wrong guy there.

"There is a decent amount of time left still until Pittsburgh. These were under ideal circumstances that we could name this week, and again, I'm not ruling that out."


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