BEREA, Ohio — There are advantages to playing two quarterbacks in the NFL. Just ask Browns safety Donte Whitner, who saw it work on one of his former teams.
With Johnny Manziel serving as Cleveland’s backup to Brian Hoyer, coach Mike Pettine has hinted at developing an offensive package for the rookie. The idea is not unlike what San Francisco did in 2012 before Colin Kaepernick became the starter while Alex Smith was injured, leading the team to the Super Bowl. Whitner was on the 49ers at the time and said that even if the package isn’t used much, simply making sure an opposing team has to prepare for two QBs can offer an advantage.
“With those words alone, they have to prepare,” Whitner said. “They have to prepare for the option, they have to prepare for the read play and all of that. You’re supposed to make them prepare for things even if you’re not going to see it.”
The extra work can lead to mistakes on other plays, Whitner said.
“Now you have to teach those defensive ends and those outside linebackers to slow down, to slow play certain things,” he said. “We just want to make them take some time off of something else. Might mess up on something else on the offense by having to worry about the read option and Johnny being back there and being a mobile quarterback.”
Pettine was the defensive coordinator for the Jets when they played the 49ers in 2012. New York spent time preparing for Kaepernick and Smith before losing that game 34-0. Kaepernick threw one incomplete pass, but rushed for 50 yards and a score.
“It does have a big effect on your prep time,” Pettine said. “And the hard part of it is you might only get a handful of plays from the other quarterback, but just the amount of time it takes to [prepare], because if you don’t prepare for it, you have a chance to look very unprepared and give up some big plays.”
A two-quarterback system requires its own amount of prep time for the team actually running the scheme, a fact not lost on Pettine.
“There is that positive to it, that you’re forcing prep time,” he said. “But the negative is that you’re affecting your own continuity.”