The Cleveland Browns have been considered a disaster for many years. The once-proud franchise has had 20 different starting QB's since 1999. In fact, when the phrase "Holcomb to Northcutt" makes you feel nostalgic, before you begin to cringe, you know you are a true Browns fan. The atmosphere may soon change.
In the 2014 NFL draft, the team drafted their greatest QB hopeful since the 1999 Tim Couch debacle. Yes, Johnny Manziel AKA "Johnny Football", the 2012 Heisman trophy winner, was drafted in the first round, 22nd overall, and is in Browns training camp. He is embattled with (somewhat) incumbent QB Brian Hoyer for the position of starting QB.
At the beginning of training camp, many in the Cleveland organization were saying that Hoyer would be the starter on opening day, with Manziel getting some much needed tutelage on the sideline. That tune has changed dramatically. Head coach Mike Pettine now says that he hopes to have a starting QB in place by the third preseason game. In all honesty, neither QB has looked particularly dominant in preseason play. Most recently, the team dropped a 13-12 decision to the Detroit Lions on Saturday Aug 9. The question is really whether or not the Browns would be comfortable throwing the rookie Manziel into the fire, in the first week of the season.
The Cleveland Browns schedule looks tailor-made for a situation where Hoyer begins the season as the starting QB, and gives way to Manziel in Week five. The Browns open the season on Sep 7, on the road against Pittsburgh. They will then have home games against New Orleans, and Baltimore (Ray Rice's first game back from suspension). Three tough games. Pittsburgh has a tough defense which would likely eat Manziel alive. Cleveland then does not have enough offense to keep pace with New Orleans. Lastly, the tough defense of Baltimore. Likely the Browns are going to start the season 0-3. They have a bye in Week 4, and then will play against Tennessee. That Week 5 matchup against Tennessee, and coming off the bye week, would seem like the ideal game to start Manziel. Were the rookie to start the season, and then get chewed up in the first two or three games, what would be the cost, in terms of his overall development ? Starting Hoyer makes the most sense.
There is a simple reality here. That is, Manziel was drafted in order to become the starting QB, and will get his chance at some point this season, it is just a matter of when. Nobody envisioned him spending any significant part of his career as Hoyer's backup. That being the case, there is no reason to rush his development. The idea is that he will be the starting QB for many years, no matter when he happens to play this season. Looking down the road, Manziel will be the starting QB in 2015 and beyond, or he will be deemed a bust.
Said Hoyer, when asked of the QB competition:"There's no change in my approach at all. To me, this is my team until someone else tells me otherwise and I just come out here and try to be the best quarterback I can. Like I said, I just ignore all the noise and hype and just worry about what happens in that building and what I can control, and to me that's coming out here and practicing the best that I can, and when I get a chance to play, playing the best that I can."
Manziel: I think we're continuing to go through the bulk of the playbook, continuing to go over, refine, get some new things in, just kinda go through our offense, and continuing to get better.
Rookie Head coach Mike Pettine says that at this point, there is no clear cut favorite to win the starting job. The Browns second preseason game is this coming Monday night vs Washington. There is a lot of pressure on both the rookie Head coach, and his rookie QB. Stay tuned for more drama, especially if neither QB does anything outstanding in the game against Washington.