Browns coach Mike Pettine appeared as a guest on NFL Network's NFL AM this morning and addressed several topics.
The highlights of the interview, though, came when Pettine was asked about the team's plan for rookie Johnny Manziel, who's competing with veteran Brian Hoyer this offseason for the starting quarterback job.
Pettine said he's "not averse to playing a rookie," but he also made it clear that the Browns won't let Manziel's popularity pressure them into starting him if they feel Hoyer deserves the job. "We’re not going to let jersey sales determine our depth chart," Pettine said.
You can read the entire transcript from the interview below and click here for our story from today's newspaper about Hoyer's quest to hold off Manziel.
On the overall plan they have for rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel: “We want there to be open competition at quarterback, and Johnny will be a big part of that. [If] we believe there is a player on our roster that can earn a starting job and help us win, then we’re going to go ahead and play him. I’m not averse to playing a rookie; I’ve been a part of some of those situations whether it was Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez – situations where we had a rookie quarterback and we ended up building a solid team around them and we were able to have some success. So I’m not going to take a hardline either way. He’s going to be part of a competition with Brian Hoyer for that starting job.”
On what he meant by his comments that he did not want Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer to have a “warm and fuzzy” relationship: “I don’t think it was something that I want to have happen; I just know both of them personality-wise. So kind of predicting their relationship moving forward I think they’ll have a solid working relationship but I just don’t think it will be an essentially warm and fuzzy one.”
On if a “warm and fuzzy” relationship is not good in his book: “I just don’t think it’ll be that way. I know how intense Brian [Hoyer] is. He’s the ultimate competitor; you talk about that type-A personality and I see Johnny [Manziel] as the same way the time I’ve spent around him. I think that’s what you want as a coach; you want guys that it’s two guys for one spot and let’s have at it. That’s what drives your football team when you can get that going at as many positions as possible.”
On how the other Browns players have responded to both Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer: “It’s a little early to tell with Johnny. It’s just been such a limited sample size; he’s only really been here essentially a little more than a week whereas the other guys have been in here for I think over seven weeks now. So just as far as grasping the playbook, it’s been hard to mix him in with the guys just because of the situation with how advanced the veterans are with the playbook. But that will come over time. We have a process; we’re going to let this thing play out and keep tabs on who’s going with what group, and make sure that they all get a fair opportunity.”
On how he is dealing with the outside pressure that comes with Johnny Manziel: “Again, we agreed on a process on how we’re going to determine our starting quarterback and we’re not going to be in the business of allowing the outside to really influence what we do. We’re building a football team here; all of the decisions, we make about football. We embrace the enthusiasm, it’s something that we know that will come with the territory with Johnny and we think that’s great, but he’ll be the first one to tell you that he earned Johnny Football as a college quarterback and he knows he has to earn it as an NFL quarterback. We’re not going to let jersey sales determine our depth chart.”
On what he can share about wide receiver Josh Gordon’s availability for next season: “I really can’t share anything at this point. The league does not allow us to speak on it. Just behind closed doors we’ve had lengthy discussions on how we’ll handle all of the possible outcomes. But at this point for us, it’ll be business as usual.”
On who will make up for the potential absence of wide receiver Josh Gordon: “That’s a situation that again, we don’t know the outcome yet. So we’ve brought in a lot of players whether it’s an Earl Bennett, whether it’s a Miles Austin. We know that there’s not any one player out there that would potentially replace Josh if that is the case. We’ll have to do it a little bit by committee but that’s something that we’ve certainly planned for.”
On bringing in free agents Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby: “The reason we brought those guys in is we wanted to make sure that we had that presence in the locker room; guys that have been a part of good defenses and winning programs to make sure that they can further the message from the coaching staff. Coaches can only take it so far and those guys have been tremendous so far. But I think the foundation was here for a solid defense already; some really good players up front, some edge guys in [Barkevious] Mingo and Jabaal Sheard, and [Paul] Kruger on the edges. And then I think we’ve made some changes in the secondary with the statement we made by drafting [Justin] Gilbert. And then also Joe Haden, we’re very thankful we were able to get his contract done and get him locked up. So we’re looking forward to the fall where we’ve already started just competing hard in the spring and there will be a lot of healthy competition between the [offense] and the [defense]. We’re going to be a defense that is going to get up in your face and get after it.”