Based on how eventful his offseason was, it was a wonder if Johnny Manziel would be prepared enough to complete a screen pass this year. But after his preseason debut against the Detroit Lions, Manziel has a legitimate chance to win the Cleveland Browns starting quarterback job.
The Texas A&M product completed 7-of-11 passes for 64 yards and added another 27 rushing yards. Along the way, he showed some of the same “Johnny Football” play-making ability that he often flashed with the Aggies.
Of course, Manziel’s competition, Brian Hoyer, is also pretty good. So it’s definitely a toss-up as to who’ll be starting in Cleveland’s September 7th season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“It’s been fierce,” Brown’s safety Donte Whitner said. “Two guys fighting for their lives. It’s close. I’d say (the locker room) is split about 50-50. We know they both can play.”
Manziel could go a long ways towards winning the starting job with a strong performance against the Washington Redskins on August 18th. He and Hoyer will also have a chance to make their case on August 23rd, in the team’s third preseason game against the St. Louis Rams. According to head coach Mike Pettine, this is the point that could ultimately decide who becomes Cleveland’s top signal caller.
“It’s not 1,000% etched in stone, but I would like it (decided) before then,” Pettine said. “The reviews of him (Manziel) in the pocket have been positive, that he has a good sense of the pocket; that he feels the rush without looking at it. A lot of quarterbacks have an issue with that. They’re more looking at the rush than feeling it. He’s definitely a work in progress with that. But he’s shown solid improvement.”
As the coach points out, Manziel still needs work on staying in the pocket and letting his offensive line do their job, rather than running at the first sign of trouble. Assuming the 21-year-old can learn this aspect, then he could potentially become the same type of duel threat that he was at Texas A&M. Furthermore, Manziel could not only start in Cleveland, but also become one of the league’s better QB’s.
One thing that’s for sure, though, is that nothing has been decided at this point. Pettine made it a point to mention this amid a report that Manziel has already passed Hoyer on the depth chart. “It’s untrue,” the coach said. “The people most involved in the decision is myself, (QB coach) Dowell Loggains and (offensive coordinator) Kyle Shanahan. It’s something I’m not going to pay a lot of attention to because I don’t like being in the business of team sources.”
So what’s the deal? Will Johnny Manziel be bringing his electrifying style of play to FirstEnergy Stadium every Sunday? And from a betting perspective, could he even win the 2014 Offensive Rookie of the Year award? If you already have an answer to the last question, get to GTBets.eu and make your ROY bet for or against Manziel.