If “Johnny Football” is going to live up to the hype, he needs to win the Browns starting quarterback job. Contrary to some critics, Manziel can actually do that with a solid performance tonight against the Redskins.
So throughout training camp and one preseason game Manziel has impressed some around Browns camp. He followed a disappointing scrimmage with a productive preseason debut in Detroit, going 7-for-11 for 63 yards along with 27 yards rushing (in typical Johnny Manziel style).
Although Brian Hoyer is still expected to be named the Browns opening day starting quarterback, Manziel is creeping up fast, forcing head coach Mike Pettine to re-consider his options.
“I expect Johnny to improve every time out,” ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden said, previewing tonight’s game.
“I don’t think the crisis is, is he ready for opening day? It’s get himself ready to be a starter whether it’s Week 1 this year or next.”
One thing can almost be said for certain: unless Brian Hoyer has an MVP season, Manziel will takeover at some point this year.
Now for the question of that point in time being Week 1, we’ll find out after tonight’s game in Washington.
Johnny Manziel: “I don’t think there’s any pressure on me. I’m still learning, I’m still growing. The expectations aren’t thru the roof.”
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) August 16, 2014
Manziel will split the first-team reps with Hoyer against Washington, putting him against the Redskins first-team defense, allowing Pettine, Browns general manager Ray Farmer, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains a chance to evaluate Manziel to see if he really is ready to be a starter.
Some may think that he’s ready, however Manziel thinks different.
“I don’t think I’m ready for Pittsburgh right now,” Manziel said to USA Today. “I’ve only played one game, but the more and more you see it, the more you get familiar with it, the better it will be.”
“For me, there’s plenty of week left to learn to get adapted to the speed and then if I was the starter for Pittsburgh in Week 1 you have to be ready. It’s Week 1, it’s the opening week of the season and it’s a big game.”
The main things that the Browns will look for, along with everyone else is if Manziel can make the proper reads and decisions with the first-team, move the ball downfield, get rid of the ball quick and, of course, score.
While Hoyer has had a stronger camp than Manziel so far, Manziel has shown growth day in and day out, and will get to show his development as a new NFL quarterback to the country under the bright lights of Monday Night Football.
“You have to remember Johnny is still raw in terms of the big picture of the NFL,” Gruden added. “He’s never been in a huddle. He’s never had to do any of the things Cleveland is asking him to do.”
Johnny Manziel is the future of the Cleveland Browns. We’ll find out Monday night if the future of Cleveland will start Sept. 7.