Leading up to the Cleveland Browns’ first preseason game on Saturday, Brian Hoyer was firmly the starting quarterback. Head coach Mike Pettine reiterated Monday that he would like have his starter named by the third preseason game against the St. Louis Rams. Pettine has also stated that it isn’t ideal to start a rookie quarterback, but with Johnny Manziel right in the thick of the quarterback competition, the Browns coach may have to start his freshman signal-caller.
Manziel didn’t enter the team’s game against the Detroit Lions until midway through the second quarter, but it was worth the wait. After Brian Hoyer only managed to put up 6 points and an average performance with the starting squad, it was Manziel’s turn to close the gap in the competition. The former Texas A&M Aggie went 7 for 11 for 63 yard through the air, but what made his performance all the more impressive was that he was succeeding with the backups. Manziel was constantly under duress on Saturday night. While critics have said that his running abilities don’t translate to the NFL, it was evident that those same talents could push Johnny Football ahead of Brian Hoyer once the regular season begins.
It wasn’t just his scrambling ability though. His presence was unfathomable. Every Cleveland Browns player and coach were on their feet while Manziel was in the game. His arm looked exceptional too, when he had time in the pocket. In many respects, Manziel is very similar to Robert Griffin III, who will be facing off against Manziel and the Browns in Week 2 of the preseason. Griffin was considered a more polished quarterback coming out of Baylor, but the truth is that Manziel’s arm is just as good, if not better. Against the Lions, Manziel threw two bad passes. The other two incompletions were flat-out drops by his inexperienced receiving corps.
Manziel is seeing more and more time in practice with the first team, and will certainly see significant playing time with them against the Washington Redskins if Coach Pettine wants to make his decision soon. It’s a risky decision starting a rookie quarterback if they aren’t fully equipped and prepared, but at the same time Manziel isn’t every other rookie quarterback. He is arguably the most polarizing player to ever enter the National Football League, but despite all the criticisms Manziel has handled himself with class.
The Cleveland Browns knew exactly what drafting Johnny Manziel entailed, and they wouldn’t have risked trading back into the first round to take him if they didn’t see stardom. Despite the incumbent suspension of top receiver Josh Gordon, the Browns have a decent offense for a rookie quarterback to work with. New addition Ben Tate, paired with Manziel in the backfield could be a very dangerous tandem. The fact that Cleveland has such a talented defense as well makes the proposition all the more likely.
Ultimately, we’ll have to wait another week to find out the fate of Cleveland’s quarterback situation. Manziel will be playing with the starters against Washington next Monday night. If he plays as well with the number ones and he did with the second team, don’t expect Johnny Football to go away anytime soon.
Tags: Cleveland Browns