This week Brain Hoyer was named the starter for the Cleveland Browns season opener, a road game against divisional foe Pittsburgh Steelers on September 7th. Hoyer a NFL journeyman is heading into his sixth season, playing for his third team. The hometown boy gave Browns fans a slight glimmer of hope in 2013. He was 3-0 in games started before his ACL injury, his completion percentage was 59.4%. While passing yards was not overwhelming he threw for 615 yards, touchdown to interception ratio was 5-3.
Over the years the Browns have drafted several quarterbacks in which all have failed, miserable. The last productive QB to wear a Browns uniform was Bernie Kosar (1985-1992). He went 53-51-1 win/loss record and threw for 21,904 yards with 116 touchdowns and 81 interceptions with multiple playoff appearances.
As the draught for wins and playoff appearances continue to mount, the drafting of QB Johnny Manziel (1st round 22nd overall pick 2014 Draft Class) brought hype and created a lot of excitement among fans and media, including King James who stopped by training camp to say hello.
The mind-set of the Browns coaching staff and the process of preparing Hoyer coming off an ACL injury and a rookie quarterback in Manziel with a lot to learn was tricky. Splitting reps with the first unit is important but allowing both to take a high percentage of the snaps was important regardless of first or second unit participation.
With a new offensive system being installed, it is imperative that the starting signal caller has a firm grasp of the philosophy, scheme concepts, personnel groupings and terminology but also confidence within the system. He must quickly build the chemistry with the first unit along with anticipation and timing with receivers. The decision to go with Hoyer came down to leadership and NFL experience.
The push for Manziel to become the starter by fans and media happened the moment that Owner Jim Haslam drafted him, not the 1st year coach Mike Pettine or young and very capable GM Ray Farmer. The drafting of Manziel in the first round doesn’t automatically make him the starter in years one or two. He was an outstanding and exciting college QB. Won the Heisman, and thrilled college football fans across the country with his on field unpredictable play and bad boy life style off the field.
Manziel has an exciting style of play with a high percentage coming from the shot gun. He has read option capabilities like Russell Wilson, RG3 and Colin Kaepernick. His best attribute comes when extending plays with pocket awareness and slippery escape-ability to throw from several platforms on the move.
I thought it was admirable for the Browns front office to create a quarterback competition to find out what they had in both players in a pressure situation, allowing the young rookie to challenge a veteran with limited overall production for the starting spot. But in the end it was evident based off film evaluation that Manziel is not ready mentally and needs a lot more time to feel comfortable within the system during his transition period from college to the NFL. When playing in the Texas A&M college system, Manziel took signals from the sideline with no huddle system, to studying from an IPad structured playbook is a huge difference in-game preparation philosophy alone.
Manziel will continue to grow during this transition period both mentally and physically, as a leader in the locker-room and hopefully act like the face of the franchise off the field, will only help in his maturity process. The NFL Fined Manziel 12K for his on field obscene gesture towards Washington’s bench in week two of the preseason continues to show his immaturity.
The key for Johnny Football is forgetting the selfies and study that playbook, be ready when your number is called.
Week 3 Preseason: Cleveland Browns vs. St. Louis Rams 8:00pm EST