Far it be it from me to credit Tony Grossi for much of anything, but in a segment he did for ESPN Cleveland with Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer (found here), Grossi put Farmer on the clock and hurled a bunch of questions at him regarding the Browns and the recent draft. Farmer played along and gave a great deal of insight into a number of things, but the most notable takeaways, as with everything usually, involve the quarterback position. For a fan base and more so media in and around Cleveland, many of which has already declared Johnny Manziel the winner of a competition that has not even started, Farmer said that if Manziel is starting week one, someone (presumably Hoyer) is injured.
92.3 The Fan is currently running a contest that is giving away $1,000 at a time per winner. Since the drafting of Manziel, the station has advertised fans using the money to get their tickets to see Manziel this year. The Browns as a team are not even mentioned; just Manziel. If Hoyer has anything to say about it, Manziel will not be playing in 2014.
Before the NFL Draft, there was a decent sized part of the fan base that was willing to ride Hoyer in 2014 as the unquestioned starter, believing he could do enough to lead the Browns to the playoffs and perhaps beyond. Since the drafting of Manziel, that group has largely vanished. The Browns and notably Farmer seem to believe that Hoyer can do that, at least for the time being. Although the argument can be made that Farmer is protecting his guy by saying that had the Browns not drafted Manziel, their second option was to roll with Hoyer, if they truly believe that, there is plenty of reason to let him play in 2014 for as long as he can hold down the job.
With all of the hype going on with Manziel, even though none of it is actually coming from Manziel, people are quick to forget that the former Texas A&M quarterback is just 21 years old and only played 26 games in his college career. Manziel has a great deal of talent, but he is young and still raw for the NFL. The best thing for him may not to play in 2014 at all. There are plenty of fans and especially an obsessed media that seem unwilling to even consider that option, but it could happen and be great for both Manziel and the Browns.
I have maintained all along that when it comes to Manziel, 2015 and beyond is what truly matters. The Browns drafted him to be great for the long haul. It would not be a failure or mean anything negative if he does not play this year. Everything is geared towards making him successful and that could mean sitting for the time being. Manziel’s improvisational skills are impressive, but he cannot rely on them to be successful. They need to be a part of a productive package and Manziel was not really asked to read defenses in college. He also did not check down much at all. There are some issues that need to be worked out.
Meanwhile, Hoyer is going to be a free agent after this season. They have him and might as well use him. If he can show something throwing to receivers like Earl Bennett, Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins and Nate Burleson, the Browns can hopefully get an asset for him if they do not decide to just keep him. The Browns could use the two first round picks and ten picks overall in next year’s draft to give Manziel a group of weapons he can learn with and grow rather than trying to learn on the fly with a JAG core.
If Hoyer struggles or gets injured again, then Manziel is obviously going to see the field. The way the schedule works out, the Browns have a tough three week stretch to open up the season followed by the bye week. If the Browns’ offense is a struggle, the Browns could look at that bye week and the softer schedule during the middle of the year to unleash Manziel. The best case scenario, however, is for Manziel to go in when he is ready rather than because the position as a whole is struggling. The media has been out of control with Manziel and many have not even given Hoyer a chance beyond lip service. As it stands right now, Hoyer looks like he will at least get week one of this year. Adjust expectations accordingly.