We think Brian Hoyer can lose the job tonight, but we also think it is possible for Johnny Manziel to win the job tonight. Hoyer can lose by struggling in the areas that he currently should have the advantage over Manziel. Johnny Football can win by showing that his higher ceiling is close to being reached, while minimizing the concerns about what his floor looks like in his rookie season. Here is how Manziel can win the job:
Show Off Arm Talent
While a slight concern by some analysts coming out of college, Manziel has shown plenty of arm both in practice and in the first Pre-Season game. Against the Washington tonight Manziel can stake his claim to the job by hitting receivers in tight windows, a rocket armed quick release and a deep throw or two down the field. Showing that he can make every throw, especially tight ones with zip, would give coach Mike Pettine confidence in turning over his team to the rookie.
No Big Mistakes
Pettine is a defensive coach who likes to minimize mistakes on the offensive side of the ball. Not turning the ball over, making the smart play to get a first down and throwing the ball away instead of taking a sack are all ways that Manziel can impress his coach. In college Manziel was able to make things happen by extending the play. In the NFL these will likely turn into sacks, fumbles or interceptions more often then not. While Johnny Football can come out for a play or two per game, regular use of his feet could lead to big mistakes.
Be a Leader
Something Manziel has shown in college, and in a different way so far with the Browns, is his leadership. At Texas A&M he was a vocal, energetic guy who could rally his team. Tonight with the Browns he needs to be a leader of men, not based on excitement, but based on confidence and composure. Can he command his teammates respect in a way that they will follow him? If mistakes are made on the field, Manziel’s ability to encourage, correct and communicate will go along way toward earning the trust of his teammates and coaches.
In general Hoyer has the edge because Pettine thinks, so far, that he gives the team the best chance to win. Manziel’s ceiling is higher but Hoyer’s present seems to have won over the coach. Showing improvement in timing, reads, and decision making, all while having a grasp on the extensive playbook might even the gap. Give Pettine something to thinking about: ‘If he improved this much in a week how much can he improve before the Steelers game?’
Blow Them Away
According to Mary Kay Cabot the Browns have to be blown away by Manziel to start him against the Steelers. Tonight, against a less then stellar defense, Manziel can do just that. Yet he needs to blow them away with what they don’t think he can do. Just playing well in scramble mode, outside of the pocket and with his legs won’t do. He needs to blow them away from the pocket an in the mental game, all things he will be able to do in time. Is that time tonight?
While Manziel clearly could win the job tonight, I expect him to do just enough to keep everyone interested. He will make some plays with his feet, show off a good arm and generally look more poised then last week. He won’t do enough to beat out Hoyer, if Hoyer has a good game. Yet if Hoyer struggles I expect Manziel to do more then enough to take the job away from the Cleveland native. Either way tonight will be enjoyable.
What do you expect from Manziel? How can he win the job?