After an abundance of anticipation, Johnny Manziel finally made his NFL debut on Saturday night.
The Cleveland Browns would start Brian Hoyer for the majority of the first half, but Manziel would enter the game late in the second quarter. Manziel’s first series as a pro resulted in a three and out. Manziel was good, but unspectacular to start. Manziel was 1/1 in his first series, completing his lone pass for a six yard gain.
However, after his shaky first series, Manziel started to do what he does best, and that’s make plays
Numerous times it looked like Manziel was going to be dragged down for a loss, but Johnny was able to constantly elude would be tacklers, en route to delivering the football to a receiver or scrambling for a gain. One of Manziel’s greatest qualities is making magic happen when the play breaks down, and he showcased his ability to do that on Saturday. Playing behind a backup offensive line, Manziel was seemingly able to take control of the offensive like a seasoned veteran.
“While the starting quarterback job is still very much up in the air for Cleveland, Johnny is doing nothing but helping his value. I think it’s his job to lose.”
Manziel played out of the pistol formation most of the game, and he delivered some (Johnny) rocket passes to his receivers. The rookie out of Texas A&M was seen wincing on a few plays, most likely due to some of the NFL level hits he took. Manziel ended his night completing 7 of 11 of his throws, as well as rushing for 27 yards on six carries.
While the starting quarterback job is still very much up in the air for Cleveland, Johnny is doing nothing but helping his value. Incumbent starter Brian Hoyer was alright in his playing time, but he will have to elevate his game if he wants to solidify himself as the starter. Hoyer went 6/14, threw for 92 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. Josh Gordon dropped a would be touchdown.
The Browns would end up losing to Detroit 13-12.
Almost all of the negative things that Manziel did can be easily fixed. For instance, during his opening series Manziel darted to the left on a designed quarterback run play, and decided to lower his shoulder and dive head first into three oncoming defenders. The smart decision would’ve been to slide, but Saturday was Manziel’s first NFL game, and he’s still getting acclimated to professional level. Manziel also seemed a little bit too eager to scramble at times. With his first pre-season game under his belt, we know that Johnny can play. What we don’t know is whether or not he will be the week one starter.
Several NFL insiders have reported that Manziel will indeed be the starter for the second pre-season game. It will be intriguing to see Manziel play with the entire starting offense, as well as play against a starting defense. If Manziel can continue to impress by showing ball security and poise, I think it’s his job to lose.
Sure, Brian Hoyer was good, but the Browns have to decide whether or not they want a player that will be just alright, or if they want somebody that can truly lead a team to success. It’s axiomatic that the majority of the Browns fan base will, if not already, be clamoring for Johnny Football. If Saturday was any indication of the NFL player Johnny Manziel will turn out to be, then the Cleveland Browns might finally have some stability at quarterback.