Johnny Manziel has been the biggest name in college football the past year, in fact, he’s probably the biggest name in the game. It really wasn’t any shock to football fans that he was taken in the first round by the Cleveland Browns. When Johnny Football was picked, the assumption was made that he would be the starter for the Browns and turn the franchise around. However, this isn’t exactly the case. Manziel has a little competition for that starting spot, and that competition goes by the name of Brian Hoyer.
Last year, Hoyer played two full games and he left very early in his third game with a season-ending injury. In the two games he finished, Hoyer threw for almost 600 yards and 5 touchdowns. Even though these are obviously solid numbers, it’s hard to compare stats between the two players. Yes, Manziel had even better stats than Hoyer, but he played at the college level. Comparing these players stat-wise wouldn’t make a ton of sense.
There are perks to either starter, with each player having enough positives to justify going with them. Hoyer hasn’t had the opportunity to have a ton of starts (only 18 games), but he has been in the league for 6 years now. I wouldn’t necessarily call Hoyer a veteran, but he has been in the NFL a decent amount of time. Having Manziel shadow Hoyer could be a good thing for the future of the Browns. If Manziel can watch Hoyer and learn from him, Manziel could continue to improve his game and ultimately be the star QB that the Browns need. Hoyer is 28 years old, which isn’t ancient for a QB, but he doesn’t have as much of a future as Manziel. If Manziel could be the backup to Hoyer for two years it would give him time to adjust to the Browns offense. I think a big concern with Manziel is his unorthodox style of play. Running all over the field to miraculously avoid defenders may have worked in college, but he likely won’t be so successful with that at the NFL level. Manziel may need time to adjust to the NFL style of play before taking over as the full-time starter of the Browns. Backing up Hoyer would give him the opportunity to do so.
The second option is to start Manziel. Let’s be honest, most people who watch a Browns game this year would much rather see Manziel start than Hoyer. I know I would. At the college level, there wasn’t a more talented QB than Johnny Football himself. It only makes sense to start him. Manziel brings a ton of energy into the game, and he is one of the most fun players to watch. A young, energetic QB may be the thing that the Browns need in order to turn the organization around. Plus, if you look at it from a business standpoint, the Browns, without a doubt, would sell many more tickets having Manziel as the starting QB.
If I were in Mike Pettine’s position, I would start Johnny Football. Sure, Hoyer played very well in his starts last year, but I have a hard time seeing Hoyer turning into the franchise QB that the Browns really need. Hoyer has a very limited ceiling on how well he can play. In 2012, Hoyer got two starts as an Arizona Cardinal. In those two starts, he threw for 330 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. Yes, it could have been a lot worse – those aren’t numbers that will make you sick – but they weren’t that good. I’m not trying to say that Hoyer’s starts as a Brown were a fluke, I just don’t think he will consistently put up those numbers. Plus, there is no way that Hoyer is going to do better than he did in those two starts.
On the other hand, you have this young, extremely talented QB that proved himself at the collegiate level. That obviously isn’t a guarantee that he’ll perform in the NFL, but Manziel possesses a spark that the Browns need in a franchise signal caller. It’s no secret that the Browns aren’t very good, so the last thing they need is a veteran QB to just play average. They need someone who will turn their franchise around. A dual-threat QB is a huge weapon for the Browns to have. Hoyer has shown that he can run with the ball a little bit, but he has nowhere near the ability that Johnny Football does. Manziel has the ability to turn plays that look like they are going nowhere, into incredible plays for big gains. It’s pointless to talk about a ceiling for Manziel, since the sky’s the limit.