Starting Hoyer: A Blessing in Disguise for Manziel, Browns
How about a mulligan, Mr. Football? Johnny Manziel, had the opportunity Monday night in Washington D.C. to steal the starting quarterback spot right from under Brian Hoyer but he just couldn’t capitalize. In a night that most called “Horrible”, the former Texas A&M Aggie and Heisman Trophy winner went 7- 16 with 65 yards and a touchdown but while the numbers don’t seem so bad, Johnny was missing receivers all over the field, his footwork was sloppy, he had trouble diagnosing defenses, and the pressure got to him in more ways then one.
In the third quarter of the Monday Night Football game, Johnny was caught by TV cameras flashing a very well- known, un- friendly one- fingered gesture at the Redskin bench which gained an incredible amount of attention from, you guessed it, the internet. This unfortunate error in judgment by the 21 year- old rookie is what seemingly drove the final nail in the proverbial coffin in his attempt to be the week- 1 opening day starter. Early Tuesday afternoon, head coach Mike Pettine named journeyman quarterback Brian Hoyer his starting quarterback for week one in Pittsburgh. Although, if Monday night is any indication of how the season is going to go, Manziel will eventually take over that number one spot and for the young quarterback, maybe sitting back and giving himself more time to prepare for whenever that time may be, is the best course of action.
There’s no doubt that he has talent, the Browns drafted Manziel with the 22nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the second quarterback taken. There are concerns about his height (Just short of 6 feet) but signal callers like Russell Wilson and Drew Brees have shown that you can win in this league without the prototypical body. There are concerns about his durability; he ran the ball almost 350 times in college, and he needs to learn to slide. Finally, and this is the big one, there are concerns about his overall maturity stemming all the way back to his days at A&M where he was investigated for allegedly signing autographs for a profit among other discretions. This is where he is going to have to show people he is ready to be a professional. The summer of Johnny is over, no more Vegas, no more Drake, no more blonde bombshells, now; it’s time to get to work. He needs to take a page from his buddy Rob Gronkowski, you can play hard, as long as you work just as hard. Everyone wants to be Ken Stabler until they realize that Ken Stabler would have never lasted in the modern, social media filled world.
This is why it is so crucial for Manziel’s development to sit and wait until the time is right. He is not ready yet; he acknowledged it in his press conference Tuesday. He is yet to even receive his first regular season game plan, to ask him to go into Pittsburgh in the opening game of the season and perform at a high level is unrealistic. Cleveland’s first three games before their bye week is at Pittsburgh, home against New Orleans, and home against the Ravens. Three pass rushes that will make any quarterback pay, let alone a quarterback starting in his first career contests. After their bye week four, four of their next five games include the Titans, Jaguars, Raiders, and Buccaneers. This would be a perfect stretch for Manziel to finally get his feel for the rigors of starting under- center in the NFL. The Browns have the defense to keep them in games and it is looking more and more like the league will not bring the hammer down on Josh Gordon and still let him suit up for the final six to eight games of the season, giving Manziel his most potent weapon just when he needs it the most.
This is Johnny’s franchise, teams do not draft quarterbacks in the first round to sit on the bench and typically in the modern era NFL, they are thrown into the mix right from the gun, but Manziel is not your typical quarterback. He is the most polarizing athlete in the world not named Lebron James and if the early stages of his career are not handled correctly, it could end badly for both the team and the player. As of right now, he is not ready to burden the load in northeast Ohio, you know it, I know it, and Johnny Manziel knows it.