SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Mike Pettine, head coach of the Cleveland Browns, is not quite ready to turn the reins of the team over to much-heralded rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel just yet.

On Wednesday, Pettine announced Brian Hoyer would remain the team’s starting quarterback. “After thorough evaluation and talking to the staff, we feel Brian gives us the best opportunity to win on Sunday,” Pettine said. “This is a football decision and those are always going to be based on what we think is best for our team. Brian has led our team to a 7-5 record. I’m confident that we can get the entire offense playing at the level needed to accomplish the goals we set at the beginning of the season. Those goals are still very much attainable.”

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Manziel came into the team’s Week 13 game against the Buffalo Bills, and led the Browns to their only touchdown, in a 26-10 loss.

One question the KCBS Morning Crew wondered – with the illegal contact rule being enforced more stringently in the NFL this season, could that actually help Johnny Football succeed when he does get a chance to get on the field?

“I’m not buying that. There is a renewed emphasis. They let them get away with stuff that they shouldn’t let them get away with too long. Then that became the norm,” Madden said. “So they had to bring it back and I think we’re kind of getting back to about where we should be.”

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The thought is that with the NFL putting a point of emphasis on illegal contact penalties, a quarterback who scrambles around could benefit. In college, Manziel would often elude defenders and let his receivers run around for as long as possible as they tried to get open. The new rules could make that even easier in the NFL.

But Madden is not so sure that the increase in illegal contact penalties will continue. “So if you touch them after five yards, that’s a penalty. I think some of that is starting to go away and I think it has to be a little more egregious than just a touch,” he said.

So far this year, the Wall Street Journal reports, 109 illegal contact penalties have been called. Over the same time period in 2013, there were only 34 such penalties.


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(Listen to the John Madden segment live weekday mornings at 8:15 and Monday and Friday mornings at 9:15 on KCBS All News 740 AM/106.9 FM.)