Thursday, August 21, 2014

Paging Dr. Pettine

Mike Pettine must fancy himself an amateur psychologist.

How else can one explain what the Browns coach said Wednesday to the media as he named Brian Hoyer his starting quarterback for the season opener in Pittsburgh on Sept. 7?

“I don’t want to make a permanent commitment to any starter,” Pettine said. “I just don’t think you can do that. I think you make more of a commitment to your quarterback because of the unique circumstances that surround the position.”

He went on to say, “I think you need all your guys on the roster running scared a little bit that ‘hey, listen, if I don’t perform in this performance-based business, if I don’t perform, I’m not going to be in there.’ “

What??!! Playing the scared card is certainly not the way to inspire confidence.

How’s that for a confidence boost, Mr. Hoyer? Sounds like the coach is trying to crawl into your mind and mess with it.

Screw up against the Steelers and Johnny Manziel is breathing down your neck, a snap away from handing you a clipboard. Think you can handle that kind of pressure with Quick Draw Pettine watching your every move? That sure must have gone over well in the locker room.

Pettine has no one to blame but himself for the problem that is now the Browns’ quarterback situation. He could have avoided it by using the first two exhibition games in a more conventional manner to decide the starter.

Most coaches with a quarterback quandary play one quarterback the first half of the first exhibition and the other most of the second half. In the second game, the roles are reversed. That is called a fair shot.

Why Pettine chose to play quarterback roulette with Hoyer and Manziel in the second exhibition against the Washington Redskins is anyone’s guess. It was foolish thinking. It appears as though the rookie head coach is outthinking himself.

What did he expect to accomplish by alternating quarterbacks in the Washington loss? He’s been around the game long enough to know you can’t establish an offensive rhythm – and offense is all about rhythm – by switching quarterbacks on what seemed to be a whim.

What harm would it have done to start Manziel in the second game, let him work the first half and then let Hoyer take over in the second half? Conventional wisdom says that should have been the case.

Another question: Why didn’t Hoyer play with the second team in the first two exhibitions? Only Pettine knows for sure. We can only guess the coach didn’t want him working with the second team because of his surgically repaired knee.

There was absolutely no flow to the Cleveland attack against the Redskins as fans played a guessing game called “who’s in there now?” When a huddle hears two different voices, it takes all the stability out of an offense.

This offense is fragile enough without any kind of interference screwing around with it. And it was unfair to both quarterbacks. It was a situation that spelled disaster from the outset.

Hopefully, Pettine will learn that playing mind games with his players is punching a ticket for trouble. If he doesn’t have their backs, who does? 

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