Browns get some needed positives
August, 29, 2014
By Pat McManamon | ESPN.com
CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns needed it.
The quarterbacks needed it.
The offense needed it.
Doesn’t matter who it was against, where it was and how it happened. This Browns offense and these quarterbacks finally got some positive things done in the preseason finale, a 33-13 win over the Chicago Bears' third- and fourth-team players.
Brian Hoyer had one drive and scored one touchdown. He was quick in his decisions and accurate on his throws. That was enough for coach Mike Pettine, who put Johnny Manziel in for the rest of the first half and the first drive of the second. Manziel had five drives, scored 13 points and made some nice plays.
It seemed as if both were able to exhale, understand their role and just play, and it seemed to matter. Hoyer got the reps with the starters, prepared with the starters and, unlike last week against the St. Louis Rams, was ready to play with the starters, albeit against backups.
Hoyer went 6-for-8 for 69 yards, and, though he lamented missing a touchdown throw to Jordan Cameron, he did guide the first-team offense on a touchdown drive on the game's first possession.
"Brian was sharp," Pettine said. "He made good decisions, and he threw the ball well."
Manziel finished 6-for-17 and said he didn't throw particularly well. But he did look more comfortable in the pocket, made more decisive reads and did make plays with his feet, running for 55 yards while throwing for 83.
The best play came when he escaped the pocket, jitterbugged to avoid four or five defenders and ran right and found Nate Burleson for a short completion that Burleson turned into a 27-yard gain.
"That’s who he is," Pettine said. "Somebody said on the sideline, 'There's Johnny being Johnny.' There was one play where it was no, no, no. Yes, yes, yes. It was typical of his playmaking ability that he had a guy open early and didn’t get it to him and he ended up making a play with his feet."
The Browns didn't like the word "relief," but there seemed to be a deep exhale after this game.
"We need that," running back Ben Tate said. "We've been making so many mistakes the last couple games. That's what it's supposed to look like."
It matters because, had it not gone well, the Browns would have been badgered about negativity and "what’s wrong?" questions all week.
It matters that they didn't face any starters, but it matters more that the night went well.
And it matters because, heading into the season opener in Pittsburgh, they can take another deep breath and focus on preparing.
"Whether it was against their backups or whatever it is, momentum is important, and I think our guys will head into next week with a very different mindset," Pettine said. "Just looking back, if it hadn't gone our way tonight, I think it would have been a bit of a shadow cast over us."