In a column Monday, I explored the idea that—from a schematic and strategic standpoint—Cleveland Browns coach and Doylestown native Mike Pettine could turn out to be the right head coach for quarterback Johnny Manziel. But there’s more to Manziel than football, of course. There’s the public and media attention that he attracts. (He showed up at Game 2 of the NBA Finals, for instance, and set Twitter afire once again.)
Nevertheless, Pettine does have some experience he can draw on to help him in this regard, too. He was the defensive coordinator of the New York Jets in 2012, when they courted a season’s worth of controversy by trading for Tim Tebow.
The Jets’ decision to acquire Tebow was problematic from the start and ridiculous by the end. Tebow had believed he’d compete with Mark Sanchez for the team’s starting quarterback job. Then, he was going to be a weapon in some Wildcat/read-option formations. Instead, he played sparingly on offense and on special teams. All the while, the swarm of reporters and cameras around him caused his teammates to roll their eyes and shake their heads. Through little fault of his own, he became an unnecessary distraction—so much so that the Jets released him after one season.
“When you look back on it, how it turned out, you’d have to criticize it in some way,” Pettine said Sunday while attending a football camp at War Memorial Field in Doylestown. “I don’t know specifically what could have been done differently. I just know it’s a different market. He was a guy where the circumstances were a little different. He had already established himself as an NFL player. It’s a little easier with us and Manziel because he understands he earned ‘Johnny Football’ as a college player, and nobody understands it more than him.”