Cleveland Browns Season Preview
Aug 28, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) runs from Chicago Bears safety Marcus Trice during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
What is a Cleveland Browns 2014 Season Preview without Johnny Manziel. Since he was drafted Manziel has been a lightening rod. “Falling” to #22, where the Browns moved up to select him, seemed like a kick in the pants to the former Heisman trophy winner. Instead he spent the time after rookie camp, and before Training Camp, having the summer of a lifetime, mostly in Vegas. When he came to camp he was squarely placed as the backup to Brian Hoyer. Yet Hoyer’s poor play, and some exciting Johnny Football like moments, thrust the competition to a coin toss. Somehow that coin toss landed directly on the edge, not heads or tails just straight up. By default Hoyer was the winner and will start Week 1.
Manziel has shown flashes of what made him such a fun QB in college. He can scramble, allude defenders and has a strong arm to throw the ball on a rope to receivers facing him. He struggled with reading defenses, hitting receivers in stride, taking the first open option and long balls to receivers moving deep. Besides the last one those were all problems attached to Manziel when he was being evaluated in the draft. He needs to make those improvements to be a starting level player in the NFL.
The Browns have discussed having a package for Manziel, starting in Week 1, to give the offense a spark. That may be exciting to put Manziel’s creativity to use, but also could hurt his development and stall Hoyer’s rhythm with the offense. Maybe the team is just saying that to give the Steelers something extra to prepare for, or maybe they plan on using him as a decoy. A play or 2 a week with Manziel in could give the Browns the edge their offense needs to overcome the lack of talent on the outside.
Needless to say Manziel has work to do before he will be a high quality starting QB in the NFL. He has shown that he can do it, and isn’t afraid to work hard during the season, but his development will take time. Cutting Rex Grossman means Manziel is for sure the next man up. It seems like playing this year could be bad for his long term success but he is only one Hoyer injury, or horrific stretch of play, away from getting on the field. The cameras will click, the headlines will roll out and the media will have their field day the moment that happens.