Pettine’s Halftime Comments Prove he has Lost Touch with his Team


Another week, another nationally televised roasting for the Cleveland Browns. With Johnny Manziel at the helm facing the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals, the game could have served as a baptism of fire needed to turn another dreadful season around.

Instead, it was a tale of two halves as the Bengals went from strength to strength and left the Browns in the dust. But for once, it wasn’t the quarterback play that was to blame in Cleveland, but a coach’s comments proving where the true problem lies.

When asked what he thought of his quarterback’s performance at halftime, Mike Pettine replied, “He’s making some pays out of the pocket. There’s a couple of balls that we want him to make from in the pocket, but you can’t argue with his production. We’ll get him calmed down a little bit in the second half.”

It’s hard to picture exactly what game Pettine was watching out there. Manziel played a very solid first half, recovering from a slow start to lead Cleveland to two scoring drives, including a 92-yard touchdown drive.

He made some excellent throws on the run, escaped the pocket only when he needed to and, most importantly, never turned the ball over. Apparently Pettine can argue with Manziel’s production, because his mobility and creativity was severely hampered in the second half by unbalanced, uninspired play calling that pulled away from everything that was working to start the game.

Of course, some of that credit needs to go to Cincy’s defense, too. The Bengals pass rush did a better job of enveloping the pocket, limiting Manziel’s ability to escape and extend plays. But a big part of that defensive adjustment was the Browns calling just one – one – running play in the second half.

There is a great difference between a panicked passer and a scrambling signal caller, and for the first time since 1999, a Cleveland quarterback was the latter of those two last night. Pettine’s desire to get back to Josh McCown as the starter is understandable. What isn’t understandable is his reluctance to even test the waters with Manziel long enough to truly know what he’s working with.

Pettine needs to start understanding his quarterback’s skill set, and fast. He tried to turn a Russell Wilson into a Tom Brady within 30 minutes on Thursday night, and it went a long way towards officially killing another Browns season.

Job security isn’t exactly sacred with that franchise, and if Pettine continues to play hard ball with a front office keen to see the return on their first-round investment, he could be replaced with Generic Browns Coach #8371 before season’s end.

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