Expect Johnny Manziel Some Today Versus the Falcons


The Cleveland Browns have not put Johnny Manziel on the field since late in September against the Baltimore Ravens. For weeks Mike Pettine and Kyle Shanahan discussed having a package of plays available for Manziel only for fans to be disappointed.

Yet I expect to see Manziel on the field today against the Atlanta Falcons. Mind you this is not based on any information or reports, instead it is reading the tea leaves:

  • Neither Pettine or Shanahan have spoken about using Manziel in weeks.
    • This may be due to the media not asking specific questions but it seems meaningful.
  • Josh Gordon is returning this week.
    • With the Falcons focused on figuring out how the Browns might use Gordon, they likely haven’t focused much on a Manziel package.
  • The game will be inside a dome.
    • If you have seen Manziel on the sideline in cold games he is bundled up as if he is in Alaska in the dead of winter. He seems uncomfortable.
    • In the dome cold won’t be an issue so Manziel should be comfortable.
    • The turf inside of the dome is also a fast track which could benefit the elusiveness of Johnny Football.
  • The Browns season is about two-thirds done with tons of practice time.
    • Manziel has had time to develop and focus on very specific things the coaching staff may ask him to do today. Practice makes perfect.
  • The Browns are in the NFL Playoff Race.
    • An extensive Johnny Manziel package of plays today would give the remaining opponents something extra to prepare for, thus benefiting the Browns.
  • The Browns got blown out last week.
    • Pettine and Shanahan could be holding the Manziel plays for a time when they are needed.
    • Another loss this week could be a back breaker for confidence, time to unleash Manziel.
  • Brian Hoyer hasn’t been spectacular.
    • A little pressure from Johnny Manziel in the game could help focus Hoyer and push him to be better.
    • A little jump start to the offense with Manziel could help the team get momentum. (See Ohio State’s game yesterday for the power of momentum.)
  • The Falcons have a powerful offense, ranked 6th in passing yards.
    • The Browns will hope to slow them down but may need to score more than their normal conservative run offense can do.
  • The Falcons defense has not been good.
    • The Falcons rank 24th against the run and last against the pass. A perfect group for Manziel to gain some confidence against.

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While it is entirely possible the Browns will continue to keep Johnny Football on the sidelines, barring injury, I see today as the perfect game to get him involved. So many factors make it possible that Manziel could excel today.

The biggest concern is related to Brian Hoyer. Rhythm is important on the offensive side of the ball especially at quarterback. Taking Hoyer off the field could impact that for him and the rest of the team. It also could create stress for Hoyer and him trying to do too much, forcing things that are not there due to concerns about Manziel coming back in.

Hoyer is a professional so we can expect he will do what is best for the team. Pettine and Shanahan are also responsible for doing what is best for the team and if they think Manziel gives them a quick boost we could see him today.

Imagine Josh Gordon split out wide right. Hoyer in shotgun. Manziel coming in motion from the left. Hoyer could fake a handoff to Manziel and then either throw or handoff on a delay to the back. Manziel could take the handoff and either run or throw deep to Gordon, or pass to another receiver. Amazing options.

Do you think today is the day we see Johnny Manziel a bit? Do you think it is a good idea?