We have covered that going into Training Camp Brian Hoyer has the edge over Johnny Manziel for the starting quarterback spot. For the national media, as well as the local, this doesn’t keep Manziel in the spotlight. That has led to conversation about Manziel being used in a creative role as a Wildcat QB. It started first Mary Kay Cabot from Cleveland.com was asked about Manziel as a Wildcat leading to this response:
Hey Rick: That would be a great way to use Manziel and get him involved in the game if Hoyer wins the starting job. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is very creative and would undoubtedly be up for using Manziel in spot situations if he’s not starting. It might also be a good way to ease Manziel into the speed of the NFL game, which often catches rookie quarterbacks off guard. The speed of NFL defenders becomes the great equalizer for some of these dual-threat quarterbacks, making it even more crucial for them to be able to read a defense quickly and throw from the pocket.
There have been other media members who have mentioned this as a possibility for Manziel if he can’t win the starting QB job. The initial thoughts behind these are solid. Manziel is great with the ball in his hands with the option to run or throw so putting him in the Wildcat role would put him in a position to succeed. If he hasn’t developed as a QB well enough to beat Hoyer the Browns can still get some value from their second first round pick. MKC mentions helping Manziel get a feel for the speed of the NFL through these Wildcat snaps.
However, while it may seem like a good idea, Johnny Manziel as a Wildcat QB is counterproductive. First it would take Brian Hoyer and the entire offense out of its rhythm. Whoever wins the QB job going into the season needs to be in charge of the offense and needs to be the leader of the team. If that is Hoyer Kyle Shanahan and Mike Pettine need to get behind him and create an offense around what Hoyer does well. The good news for Browns fans is this is exactly what Shanahan has done well. His offense with Matt Schaub and Kirk Cousins looked different then the one with Robert Griffin III.
In the long term, and possibly more important, is what the Wildcat role could do to Manziel. Going into the Draft most experts stated that Manziel would need to learn how to play better from the pocket, rely on his legs less and learn to make quick decisions with the ball in his hands. Everything the Browns should do with Manziel should be to build him as an NFL QB and if he does not win the starting job, the Wildcat role doesn’t do that for him.
In the Wildcat Manziel would be asked to do things similar to what he did in college. Run around, be creative and make plays. That would be the primary goal in the Wildcat. Those are all good skills when plays break down but are not long term, primary skills for an NFL QB. If the Browns are trying to make those type of changes for the investment they have made in Manziel, having him also practice those skills at the same time is unproductive. His current nature is Wildcat like. If that nature is not what the Browns want he should never be practicing any of those type of things.
While short term a Manziel Wildcat QB could be exciting and make big plays for this year’s team, doing so could create long term problems. If Brian Hoyer wins the starting role Ray Farmer, Mike Pettine and Kyle Shanahan will have a full year to develop Manziel for next year and beyond, not to just get an extra first down this year. It is a tough balancing act but confidence in Hoyer would lead to Manziel holding the clipboard, learning the mental part of the game all while developing the nature of an NFL QB.
Do you think Manziel should be deployed as a Wildcat QB or if he doesn’t win the job he should sit all year?