Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel put his best foot forward in the team’s preseason opener, and he’s definitely made it a neck-and-neck raise with veteran Brian Hoyer. Unfortunately for Manziel, he’ll have to beat Hoyer by a noticeable margin in order to win the starting gig, because a tie would end up favoring Hoyer, who has the experience. A big selling point for Hoyer- beyond his experience- is his ability to progress through reads, anticipate throws, and stay in the pocket. Manziel is viewed as a raw passer who might not translate to the NFL because of his inability (almost unwillingness, even) to make the easy throw and stay in the pocket. Progressing through reads and making the smart throw is crucial, and it’s a skill Hoyer has down pat, whereas Manziel struggled with that in college.
The NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala reports that Manziel went just 2-6 in 7-0n-7 drills compared to a 6-6 line from Hoyer, but she added that the positive news is that Manziel looked the best he has this offseason when progressing through reads. This is indeed great news, because it means that Manziel is making progress on the mental side of things, even if he hasn’t been nearly as fast of a learner as two-game preseason stud Blake Bortles.
Manziel will share some reps with the first time, even if Hoyer will be the starter in-name for the team’s next preseason tilt on Monday against the Washington Redskins. After that contest, Mike Pettine will name his starter, so Manziel will need to have a great game in order to surpass Hoyer after closing the gap and earning respect last week. That said, the starter for Week 1 won’t necessarily be the starter for the whole season, but Manziel would have to hope for Hoyer to flop if he doesn’t win the initial battle. As of right now, it looks like the starting opportunity for the regular season opener rides on the performances of both QBs in the second game, which gives Hoyer the leg up.