Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel will be a lightning rod for criticism due to his lifestyle and a perceived lack of dedication to the finer points of the game, but this might be the most scathing report we’ve read about him, even going back to his pre-draft or college days. Per sources close to the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot, Manziel “alarmed” the Browns organization with some of his off-field activities since being drafted, and, of course, everything went back to that picture of a rolled up $20 bill in the bathroom.
Sources told Cabot that the Browns believe Manziel took a step back during offseason workouts and isn’t dedicated enough to the playbook, making them believe that he’s falling behind Brian Hoyer for the starting quarterback job. Earlier today, ESPN’s Bob Holtzman reported that Browns players believe the team will go with the veteran Hoyer in Week 1, and that might seem like the most likely option at this point.
It’s difficult what to make of reports like this, especially since the strong statements made in them may seem hard to believe. I’m not one of those people who revels in rooting against Manziel, nor am I someone who buys into the narrative that he doesn’t care about the game. What I’m going to be most interested in is how he plays in preseason games, because that’s all that matters to me at this point; I care about what he does on the field, unless I hear about something serious like an arrest.
When reading Cabot’s report, it’s important to note what the other sources state about Manziel. Some told the Browns beat writer that they believe it’s still an open competition, while a source close to Manziel stated that he’s been working extremely hard this offseason to quell concerns by bulking up and improving as a player as he heads into his first season in the NFL. Since everything we’re hearing is all over the map, I’m going to take the patient approach and wait and see what he does in the exhibition matches before drawing any strong conclusions.