As Johnny Manziel prepares to make his second NFL appearance for the Cleveland Browns, facing off against Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football, there are still many questions as to who should be the regular season starter.
Here’s the thing. I’m a born and raised lover of SEC football first – NFL second. I grew up only really caring about the Saints, Titans and Dolphins. I watched the Cowboys in the 90’s, because everyone else in America does. I currently live in Baltimore. Ergo, the Ravens are a team of interest – as well as the surrounding teams. Here’s the kicker: football season is right around the corner and I’m writing about the Browns.
And I like Brian Hoyer, I really do. But, it isn’t because of him; everyone knows that. It’s because of No. 2.
Johnny Manziel may be No. 2 on the roster and on the depth chart (at least for now, he’s been taking some first team reps), but he’s number No. 1, not only on the Browns, but in the entire NFL….. in jersey sales. The league did not release the exact numbers, but I can tell you he is ahead of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and everyone else in the NFL. You know the last time a member of the Cleveland Browns did that? Never.
Google image search “Manziel shirt” and you will find (and I stopped counting), over 1000 t-shirts available, some appropriate, others not so much. Do the same for Brian Hoyer and you will find more fingers on your hand than you will Hoyer shirts available for purchase. In fact, the sixth result is a Johnny Manziel shirt – just saying.
The Browns set a record for the preseason game with the Lions last week – and crushed it by almost a million viewers. You think people were just really excited to see the staunch defenses from Detroit and Cleveland? Negative. They watched to see Manziel lead a few series in the second quarter — some hoping he did great, others hoping for that first interception.
The Browns haven’t had a quarterback start more than two consecutive seasons since Bernie Kosar in the early 90’s – and since 2008, they’ve started over 11 quarterbacks. If you live outside Ohio, I’d kiss your toes if you could name six or seven of them. Ken Dorsey is among them, to put that in some perspective. And again, this is not me taking shots at Brian Hoyer, but if you can’t see him being a name on that list, you aren’t being real with yourself.
Further than that, who is the head coach of the Cleveland Browns? Okay, Mike Pettine you may have got that one. What about the past two seasons? Did you have Pat Shurmer or Rob Chudzinski? Again, if you are outside of Ohio, probably not. Mike Pettine is going to get more facetime than an iPhone this season, and it’s not because Joe Haden or the top 10 defense of the Browns.
The NFL is a business, and businesses are about making money — there is a reason they call him “money” Manziel. People may talk good about him, they may talk bad about about him… but they are always talking about him.
It would be one thing if Hoyer was the second coming of… uhhh… Vinny Testaverde…? I don’t know I was trying to think of a great Browns’ QB and that is all I had at the time, but he’s not. Brian Hoyer is a serviceable NFL quarterback. He’s thrown for seven career touchdowns (to six interceptions). Granted, six of those TD’s were last season. He won a few games last season, and that’s commendable but he isn’t setting the world on fire with his play.
And Manziel by no means is a better option behind center. He is inexperienced, unpredictable, probably not ready, not prototypical, crazy attitude….. and that’s we want to see him so damn badly.
The Browns have been on ESPN as much as Lebron James recently. Oh, who is also friends with Johnny Football. But, you already knew that, didn’t you? Of course you did. And I won’t make the sarcastic comment about asking you who Brian Hoyer’s friends are, because that’s a low blow.
The Browns haven’t made the playoffs since 2002 with Kelly Holcomb taking snaps, and haven’t won a game in the postseason since 1994. Adding insult to injury, the AFC North isn’t getting any easier. Is Hoyer, who on the field probably has a slight advantage over Manziel, going to be the difference in three or four games and a wild-card spot? As Doctor Evil would say: “How about no.”
Of course, I suppose Rex Grossman is always a crowd pleaser as well. The Browns signed the former Florida Gator this past week after waiving Tyler Thigpen.
Sidetrack a moment.
When you’re in high school, people always ask where you’re going to college. When in college, it’s what are you majoring in. When you graduate, it’s where you want to work… then when are you going to have kids — so on and so forth.
Manziel will be the same thing. It was where he is going to get drafted. Now every article — including this one — is about the QB battle. When he wins, because at some point: he will win, it will be about what he needs to do to win, how he can get better, why he lost…this stuff isn’t going anywhere for a while folks. And that is not necessarily good or bad, but rather a fact.
I say all of that to say this: If Manziel is playing, people are going to watch the Browns. If he’s not, people lose interest. So what if he isn’t the best option — he’s the most entertaining, and isn’t that what the NFL is meant to be?
Hit me up when Drake makes a Brian Hoyer song though. And I promise, I really do like Hoyer. I just also like being entertained.