Aug 9, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) looks to pass in the pocket during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Preseason: Johnny Manziel vs Brian Hoyer, Round 2

To follow the Cleveland Browns quarterback competition, one has to filter out the personal bias and be ready for daily change throughout the NFL Preseason. Going into the first game against the Detroit Lions, it was believed that Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel were in a dead lock for the starting role. Both performed better then expected against the Lions, with Hoyer looking calmer in the pocket and making better throws than Manziel.

Aug 9, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (left) and quarterback Brian Hoyer (right) warm up before the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Manziel showed off his tremendous ability to make a play out of nothing and work outside of the pocket. If you gauged the media response to Manziel’s first start, you would place him firmly ahead of Hoyer in the competition. Manziel was also believed to be the starter for the second preseason game against the Washington football team (which just so happens to be a nationally televised game on ESPN).

Browns head coach Mike Pettine refused to name a starter for the second preseason game until this afternoon, which will once again be Hoyer. Manziel’s performance against the Lions may have made firm believers out of the media, but the Browns head coaching staff will need to see more proof from Manziel that he gives them the best chance of winning football games if he is to jump ahead of Hoyer in the competition.

Initially, Mike Pettine said he would like to have a starter named by the third preseason game, which is usually a dress rehearsal for the season opener. The Browns coaching staff has not indicated whether this is still the planned timeline, but it is likely the outcome of the Washington game will give a better indication of where things are headed.

Also joining Hoyer and Manziel in the Cleveland Browns quarterback competition is veteran Rex Grossman. Grossman will not be vying for the starting position, but is expected to help grow and develop both Hoyer and Manziel. There was some initial speculation that Grossman was being brought in to put some pressure on Hoyer or was an indication that the Browns would be trading him. The Browns have dismissed these rumors, and with Hoyer starting Monday night against Washington, it appears he still has the coaching staff’s vote of confidence. Still, that will not quell the rumors that the Browns are just showcasing Hoyer for a potential trade.

Mike Pettine stated that both Hoyer and Manziel will get equal reps against Washington on Monday night. Look for Hoyer to demonstrate his ability to get the ball downfield and make big plays with his arm, something we have not seen from Manziel yet. The Browns want Manziel to play his style of football, but he must also show that he too can make big plays with his arm.

Pettine also put out the reminder to once again not look too deeply into who is starting each game, as the performance of both quarterbacks will be the bigger determination as to who will be the starter come week 1.

As it stands right now, Hoyer appears to have the upper hand, as he has had since the beginning of the quarterback competition. He held the starting role prior to Manziel being drafted, and it was up to Johnny Manziel to unseat him from that position. Mike Pettine and the Browns coaching staff appear to buy into the philosophy of another Cleveland sports superstar: that everything in Cleveland is earned, not given.

Tags: Brian Hoyer Cleveland Browns Johnny Manziel NFL

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