While the Cleveland Browns are moving closer to naming a starting quarterback, assuming head coach Mike Pettine sticks to his guns about having a No. 1 guy before the third preseason game, Johnny Manziel would benefit greatly from taking the Blake Bortles route.
Bortles, who was taken by Jacksonville 19 spots ahead of Manziel in April's draft, was named the Jaguars' backup quarterback all the way back in May, according to general manager David Caldwell, via Jaguars.com:
Chad [Henne] knew all along when we re-signed him in the offseason we were honest with him and he’s been great. I like what Chad’s been doing in this offseason stuff. He will probably give us the best chance of winning this year and Blake will be the guy of the future.
The Jaguars and Browns are in different situations, with the former still building a roster capable of fighting for a playoff spot and the latter already having tremendous talent at various positions in place with questions at the quarterback spot.
Manziel was a human highlight reel at Texas A&M, which is what excites fans and makes them pump him up as the next big star before he ever takes a snap in a real NFL game. However, nothing about his game at this moment suggests the Browns would be upgrading the position.
Training camp hasn't exactly been shining a bright light on the immense talent Manziel had in college. According to ESPN.com's Pat McManamon, the rookie had a rough time in practice on Friday:
Manziel had a tough day, with dropped balls, near interceptions and missed throws. He got a field goal in the two-minute drill (17-17 tie, two timeouts, 58 seconds left, ball at Browns 40), but also backed out of center too soon on a play in the red zone, leading to a botched snap and penalty. In a 7-on-7 drill, Manziel went 2-for-6 (unofficially) and had two throws nearly intercepted.
Manziel is still going to get his opportunity to start the season as Cleveland's No. 1 quarterback on Monday in a preseason game against Washington. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported that Johnny Football will get plenty of chances with the first team offense:
How will Brian Hoyer & Johnny Manziel split reps in #Browns preseason game 2? They'll alternate every 2 series with the 1st team, I'm told— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 14, 2014
Brian Hoyer, while not exactly a star at the quarterback position, did have success in a small sample size last season. He completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 615 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions.
Nobody is claiming Hoyer is the savior, but based on what he showed last year and where the Browns are at right now, they should see what they have in him. The five-year veteran is only 28, so if it turns out he can play, the team can decide whether to keep him as the starter or flip him for draft picks to add more weapons for Manziel.
As much as fans love the backup quarterback or the hot rookie on the block—both bills that fit Manziel to a T—there's always a danger of throwing a player into a situation before he is ready for the moment.
There's no evidence to suggest Manziel has separated himself from Hoyer in practice, and he didn't light the world on fire during his preseason debut against Detroit, going 7-for-11 with 63 yards and six carries for 27 yards. Keep in mind those numbers came against second- and third-string players on defense.
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Sometimes a rookie just isn't ready to play right out of the gate. Manziel has also shown immaturity off the field, even being told by the team to tone down the antics after a phone incident in June.
When you are a quarterback, all eyes are on you. You represent the franchise with everything that you do, good and bad. Manziel is still at an age when he thinks he's invincible. We have all been there, but eventually reality sets in and it kicks you in the face.
Because of Manziel's skittish performance during training camp and preseason and his antics off the field, being able to sit behind a veteran, even for half of the year, could be time he uses to better prepare for when his time comes.
The Browns believe in Manziel, or else they wouldn't have traded back up in the first round to get him. He might have a great future in the NFL, but all he is right now is hype with no results to show for it.
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