The Cleveland Browns have decided to start veteran Brian Hoyer over rookie Johnny Manziel, and it’s a decision that comes as a surprise to nobody after both players struggled in Monday night’s preseason game over the Washington Redskins. Mike Pettine stated that he wanted to name a starter on Tuesday, but he decided to hold off until this morning to dub Hoyer as his starter for at least the first few weeks. It’s very possible for Manziel to start at some point this season, and some are highlighting the early Browns bye week as a time for a potential change.
Earlier this offseason, Pettine stated that it was more about Manziel vs. the playbook than Manziel vs. Hoyer, and it’s something that not enough people paid attention to. Beating Hoyer would prove that Manziel gives the team the best chance to win games, but, in order to beat Hoyer he would have to do well enough in the category that gives the veteran the advantage; learning the playbook and adjusting to the NFL.
The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that Manziel had issues learning the playbook, as the Browns learned that he faced a “steep learning curve” after working out of a spread offense at Texas A&M where reads, protections (he also had elite tackles), and play calls were easy. Manziel had issues taking snaps under center, and he had to be helped by teammates when learning the terminology and plays of a new, pro-style offense.
We all made this more about Hoyer vs. Manziel than it should have been, just like we’re making the Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings QB competitions more about Blake Bortles vs. Chad Henne and Teddy Bridgewater vs. Matt Cassel than we should. The main thing for these QBs is learning the playbook and adjusting, because they are first-round picks who clearly have more talent than the veterans in front of them; they just need to adjust. Looking at where Manziel is coming from and how raw he truly is, it was simply unrealistic to ask him to start, especially when studying some of his problems in the first two preseason games (incorrect reads, running too easily, issues dealing with speed of pass rushers).