Johnny Manziel made his much-anticipated NFL debut with the Cleveland Browns on Saturday night against the Detroit Lions in Ford Field and showed some flashes of being a starting quarterback, but also showed he has a ways to go to beat Brian Hoyer for the starting job.
Manziel finished the night 7-of-11 passing for 63 yards and a 79 rating. He also added 27 yards on the ground on six carries for a 4.5 yards-per-carry-average, including picking up one crucial fourth down with his feet. His longest run of the night went for 16 yards. He was the team’s leading rusher when he left the game.
At Texas A&M, Manziel electrified college football fans with his flair for the game and dual-threat ability and while he was playing against the Lions reserves on Saturday night, he looked like the same player who dominated the SEC and in bowl games against Duke and Oklahoma, the last two years.
Sure, he has a ways to go to get to the point where head coach Mike Pettine wants him to be in order for him to be the team’s starter, even if most expect him to start the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but overall it was a very solid NFL debut for the 2012 Heisman winner.
Manziel only led the Browns to a field goal in his limited time on the field tonight, but next Monday night against the Washington Redskins, he will be the starter and that will be a true test to see how he does against Washington’s starting unit.
He has a flair for playing at his best when the lights are the brightest and his first taste of Monday Night Football could be his first true test of making a statement to earn that starting spot over Hoyer.