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Mike Pettine says he ‘can sense’ Johnny Manziel’s frustration with not playing


When the Cleveland Browns drafted Johnny Manziel with the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the prevailing wisdom was that the team would slowly bring him along through OTAs and training camps, but sooner rather than later, Manziel would overtake incumbent starting quarterback Brian Hoyer and seize the reigns of the franchise and lead the team for years to come.

Nothing has turned out that way. Manziel arguably is partly to blame for the Browns’ hesitancy to give him the keys to the organization. The rookie exhibited some signs of immaturity off the field (late nights, party weekends in Vegas, etc.), not to mention more immaturity — as well as some inexperience — on the field during his months with the team.

Hoyer’s solid if not spectacular play has also contributed to Manziel’s official anointing as NFL starter taking a back seat when considering the best interests of the team.

Hoyer had led the Browns to a respectable 4-3 record and save for one nightmarish game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he has been a steadying influence on the team.

But this has led to some troubles, at least for Manziel. According to Browns head coach Mike Pettine, the rookie signal-caller’s inaction in games has led to some tough times for Manziel as he navigates his way through his first NFL season.

In fact, it’s reached such a point that Pettine said he “can sense” Manziel’s growing frustration.

“Well, I just think that he’s quiet. I just think you feel it,” Pettine said on Wednesday, per “I’d be shocked — maybe I’m imposing it on him — but you feel it because you know what kind of competitor he is. Here’s a guy that’s gone from the past how many falls being out there making plays to standing there and having to watch. The competitor that he is is one of the biggest reasons we brought him here. So if he didn’t feel that way, I’d be shocked.”

Despite being on the field for a couple of plays, Manziel has been practically invisible since the start of the regular season.

Given how things may have not gone exactly as Manziel — or even the Browns organization, arguably — Pettine says he makes sure to keep an eye on Manziel and from time to time in order to gauge the rookie’s temperament and outlook in light of the drastic change Manziel has experienced from superstar to clipboard holder.

“But I check in with him, as I check in with most all of our guys periodically,” said Pettine. “But that’s a position that can be frustrating. To go from being the guy at (Texas) A&M, that’s a tough thing as the reality of the season has clearly set in. But at the same time, we make sure that he’s preparing like a starter. It can happen in the span of one play. You see it around the league all the time. He has to be ready to go, he has to be prepared and there’s no reason to think that he’s not.”

Pettine went on to praise Manziel for remaining dedicated through the team by doing a great job in practice and operating the scout team. But for now, Pettine’s comments that express that he too is curious about Manziel’s potential also appear to indicate that Hoyer is entrenched as the guy under center in Cleveland.

“I think we all do (wonder how he’ll do),” he said. “I mean, that’s a question that we need to have answered but it’s not something that you can force. Brian’s our starting quarterback. That’s a difficult thing to say let’s just go ahead and.. all the games are meaningful now. If it ever gets to the point whether we’re potentially up big, down big, or if there’s a situation that calls for him to go in, we’ll get an opportunity to see him, but there’s a lot of football left to be played. You’re looking for an evaluation at some point, but what I’m saying is I don’t think you can force it.”

With this being a contract year for Hoyer, much appears to be in flux with the Browns and the quarterback position in Cleveland, at least heading into the offseason, if Pettine’s comments regarding his two QBs remain consistent throughout the balance of the regular season.

Given his talent, Manziel obviously deserves at least a shot at a future in the NFL. Whether that comes this season — or with the Browns — remains to be seen. Patience is a virtue, as is said, and that’s a lesson Johnny Manziel appears to be learning the hard way.

(photo credit: Associated Press)