Pittsburgh Steelers: Why Does Mike Tomlin Respect Johnny Manziel?

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Pittsburgh Steelers: Why Does Mike Tomlin Respect Johnny Manziel?
David Richard/Associated Press

Coach Mike Tomlin said earlier this week that he’s preparing to face Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel on Sunday despite the fact that Brian Hoyer has already been anointed the starter.

There’s no folly in preparing your team for all potential options in front of it. Certainly if Manziel does make his way onto the field, Tomlin wants his defense prepared for whatever he might throw at them.

Tomlin is known for lavishing praise on opposing players during weekly press conferences, but his remarks about Manziel are as mystifying as they are unnecessary.

In a press conference earlier this week, multiple media outlets quoted Tomlin as saying he expects Manziel to take the field at some point Sunday. But then he took it up a notch, per Scott Brown of ESPN.com.

"We've got a great deal of respect for Johnny Manziel and his talents," Tomlin said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. "They didn't draft him in the first round to watch. We fully expect them to utilize him in some capacity in this football game."

Really, Tomlin? You have a great deal of respect for a rookie quarterback whose talents earned him a backup spot for the Cleveland Browns? What exactly has Manziel done in his NFL career to garner that kind of respect from a head coach with a Super Bowl title on his résumé?

Well nothing, really.

This isn’t college, and Manziel isn’t wearing a Texas A&M jersey anymore. He isn’t indisputably the best player on the field, and there’s no Heisman Trophy waiting for him at the end of the season. Manziel hasn’t even played a single down of real NFL football yet.

He threw for almost 300 yards and two touchdowns in the preseason, adding another rushing touchdown with his legs. But it is the preseason for a reason, a time when teams are running out their second- and third-string defenses with regularity.

For one, former Steelers running back and current ESPN analyst Merrill Hoge isn’t buying the hype surrounding Manziel, per Will Brinson of CBS Sports.

Instead of praising his talents like Tomlin, Hoge said recently that Manziel should have been a “flier” in the “seventh round” instead of the first-round pick he actually was.

He has no business being on the field right now. This is the one thing that probably burns me more about the NFL more than anything, is when a player like Johnny Manziel is drafted based on hype and excitement, not a true football skill, Hoge said.

Hoge went on to say that the Browns’ chances of winning are actually diminished if Manziel plays Sunday, and said the rookie quarterback doesn’t deserve the hype that has surrounded him thus far in his brief NFL career.

There’s little doubt that Manziel will take the field at some point Sunday, and it’s a good thing Tomlin wants to prepare his team for that possibility.

But let’s stop heaping praise on a rookie quarterback that hasn’t done a thing yet in his NFL career to warrant the “respect for his talents” that Tomlin apparently has.

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