Brian Hoyer is going to get the start against the Washington Redskins but Johnny Manziel got the first snaps today in the last Training Camp practice open to the public. Yet while all of this plays out as the major storyline, long time Cleveland Browns reporter Mary Kay Cabot dropped this tweet:
#browns have never wanted to send Manziel into the lion's den of Pittsburgh sept 7. JFF will have to make it impossible for them to sit him
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 15, 2014
MKC wouldn’t just send out that tweet without some background information that she feels comfortable with. Instead we expect that this is a true sentiment within the organization. Whether head coach Mike Pettine feels this way is a different discussion. Pettine has clearly stated that he wants to start whoever gives the team the best chance to win. If Hoyer and Manziel are close the Steelers game, “the lion’s den,” could help break the tie.
What will be interesting if Hoyer is given the start is how the team evaluates the QBs going forward. Pettine has stated in the past that wins and losses would not define the QBs, performance would. What if, like in the Lions Pre-Season game, Hoyer plays well but a couple key drops leads to an 0-3 start going into the bye week? While the media and fans would be calling for the QB savior of the future in Manziel, would Pettine stick to his guns? Playing against the Steelers, Saints and Ravens, is it even possible for either Hoyer or Manziel to perform overly well and win 2 of 3?
In the end the information in MKC’s tweet makes a ton of sense. It actually makes sense for the first 3 games against teams who have creative, multiple, attacking defenses. A veteran QB has trouble with the Zone Blitzes of Pittsburgh, the UFO defenses of Rob Ryan and the Saints and the relentlessness of Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs of the Ravens. If the choice is the sacrifice a QB to those 3 it is much easier to do so with the one who has been a backup and has 1 year left on his contract, instead of the rookie “QB of the Future.”
Yet does it say anything about the Browns confidence in Manziel that they wouldn’t want to put him out there? Likely it has more to do with experience and NFL game speed understanding then confidence, but is it a concern none the less?
Best case scenario for the Browns is Hoyer starts and wins 2 of 3, allowing Manziel time to develop. Thankfully if Hoyer struggles the Browns have a much easier schedule after the bye week. Manziel can roll into town on a white horse and play well against inferior competition, compared to the opening 3 weeks.
What do you think of MKC’s report?