First-year Browns coach Mike Pettine didn't settle on a starting quarterback until days before the third preseason game. And when he finally announced that Brian Hoyer had won the job, you got the sense that there wasn't much conviction behind the proclamation.
In today's NFL, you typically don't draft a quarterback in the first round to sit him on the bench. There's also the matter of Hoyer looking overwhelmed for much of the preseason. And that, coupled with Johnny Manziel flashing glimpses of the big-play ability that earned him the Heisman and still keeps Jerry Jones up at night, is reason enough to think that it won't be long before Hoyer is demoted.
Except that Pettine says he has no plans to sit Hoyer should he struggle early.
"This is your team, this is your offense," Pettine said he told Hoyer when he was named the starter, via NFL.com. "We have his back. We didn't go with him and just say, 'Hey, listen. We might do this and see how it goes and after a series, we might switch it back.' I don't think you can do that -- I know you can't do that at quarterback. ... It's not going to be a quick hook."
We'll say it for the millionth time: Manziel will be the starter by Week 5 at the latest. The Browns face the Steelers, Saints and Ravens to open the season before a Week 4 bye; 0-3 is a distinct possibility. And with two weeks to mull over how things went so wrong so fast, the conversation will invariably turn to giving the rookie a chance.
Hoyer is in an untenable situation; he played well in three games last season but was unimpressive in four preseason games. As it stands, experience is the only edge he has over Manziel, and a month from now -- regardless of what Pettine might say -- that won't matter.
Put another way: Expect Merril Hoge, who has publicly called Manziel "a juvenile punk," to have his head explode sometime around early October.
In less volatile news: Vikings first-year coach Mike Zimmer echoes Pettine in the veterans vs. rookies conversation. Zimmer says not to expect to see Teddy Bridgewater should Matt Cassel stumble early in the season.
"We've gone seven, almost eight weeks now where we feel this is the way we want to go," Zimmer said. "If we throw an interception the first play of the game, I'm not going to yank [Cassel]. I have to go on the OTAs and everything we've seen from there. I know the fans are excited about Teddy. I'm excited about Teddy. But we have to do what's best for the football team at this point, and what's best for the future -- and as you know, coaches' futures aren't necessarily very long. I'm always trying to think between the now and the future, and what's best for this organization as we go down the road."
No word on how Hoge feels about Teddy.