Johnny Manziel hasn’t earned the starting job yet, but it may be only a matter of time.
The Cleveland Browns have had a higher number of starting QBs since they returned to the league in 1999 than number of NFL seasons. First-year HC Mike Pettine was given the rare opportunity to coach Johnny Manziel, one of the most dynamic and controversial players in NCAA history and has the job of deciding if and when the man nicknamed “Johnny Football” will start for the team.
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan worked with Robert Griffin III in Washington, so he has earned a reputation for developing young QBs. Mike Pettine said he will name his starter before the third preseason game and will likely give both Hoyer and Manziel a full preseason game each to duke it out.
Johnny Manziel – The first freshman QB to win the Heisman trophy, Manziel has become a larger than life figure in the media. But on the field he has one of the most intriguing upsides for a QB of any prospect in years. Manziels’ penchant for partying has put his work ethic into question, which is in part
Brian Hoyer – A former backup to Tom Brady got his first extended action with the Browns in 2013, where he went 3-0 as a starter before suffering a season ending injury. He was named the starter at the start of the 2014 offseason, but now has Johnny Manziel looking to take his starting job.
Who Is The Frontrunner?
Hoyer. With a strong showing in his three game in 2013, the consensus in Cleveland is that Hoyer has earned the chance to be the full-time starter for the Browns. He intrigues people with his ceiling and may not need to blow people away in order to be named the starter in the preseason.
Who Has The Most Potential?
Manziel – the ceiling on Manziel is one of the highest of any QB in recent history. He could be a QB like Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton or even Steve Young. The Browns need to be very careful with how they play Manziel – they don’t want him to get injured early in his career and hinder his development. But at the same time, with his reputation for partying and poor decision making off the field, they need to keep him under close watch to make sure he doesn’t get into trouble like WR Josh Gordon has repeatedly.
Odd Man Out:
Tyler Thigpen/Conner Shaw – Thigpen is a journeyman QB who has not thrown a pass since 2012 for the Buffalo Bills. Shaw is an undrafted rookie QB out of South Carolina who won the most games in team history, but lacked the athletic potential to be a draft pick.
Hoyer win. Manziel become backup. Shaw is #3. Manziel and Shaw have potential but neither one may be ready to start in 2014. Hoyer is a proven backup with enough of a sample size in the NFL to warrant a starting QB job.