Cleveland Browns Johnny Manziel: “I have a lot of ground to catch up on”


While the media is trying to twist anything and everything around Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel on and off the field, Manziel on the field has had an extremely realistic approach to his first year in the league.  Like every quarterback in the history of the game, when asked if he expects to be the starter for week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Manziel’s answer is “absolutely”, which is getting headlines, but he has a far more realistic viewpoint on his role and the competition he faces.

As reported by Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network, Manziel said “it’s not the end of the world” if he is unable to beat out Brian Hoyer for the starting job by week 1.  Furthermore, Manziel sounded like a player with a great deal of perspective when he said the following:

"“What I can learn from him, from a routine standpoint, from a knowledge standpoint, and where I need to get to,” he said. “When camp starts, I’ll have a better grasp of the playbook. It won’t feel like I’m brand new to everything. But still, I think everything coach Pettine said was spot on, that Brian obviously is ahead — he’s been doing this a lot longer than I have. I’m a rookie, and so I have a lot of ground to catch up on.”"

Manziel is not saying he is not competing for the spot nor is he selling Hoyer short.  He is merely painting the situation exactly as it is.  The Browns have been saying the entire time that Brian Hoyer is the starter.  The national media, in particular, has completely dismissed this idea, suggesting the Browns are merely artificially having Manziel be the backup for the time being.

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The Browns like Hoyer.  They also really like Manziel, but before the draft, Browns head coach Mike Pettine said he would like to sit a rookie quarterback for the entire year.  After the draft, general manger Ray Farmer said the only way Hoyer does not start week 1 is if he is injured.  Pettine has not gone as far as ruling out Manziel as a possibility to start the season, but Manziel is going to have to earn it and that is not spin or anything else.  That is how they are handling it.  The other part of this is the Browns have a tough slate the first three weeks of the season followed by their bye week, so should Hoyer come out of the gate struggling, week four may be the more logical target date for Manziel to start as a rookie.

While Manziel has been an incredibly exciting quarterback since he started playing football at Texas A&M, he enters the NFL as a quarterback who was not asked to read defenses and played just 26 games in college.  Especially after just having minicamp, it is not surprising that he looks as far behind as he does, which Manziel points out himself.  When training camp finally gets underway at the end of this month, it will be interesting to see how much of a difference Manziel’s understanding of the playbook will make.

While Johnnu Manziel is the guy who is photographed with a bottle of champagne on an inflatable swan on the weekends, he is also an extremely smart quarterback with a better perspective than most anyone on the current situation despite his youth.  The hope for the Browns is that Manziel becomes more known for that sort of wisdom and perspective on the field in addition to his ability to make plays moreso than the guy with the cash phone off of it.