Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel is a hot shot. He’s controversial. He’s a social butterfly. According to Browns head coach Mike Pettine, Johnny Manziel is frustrated, quiet and tired of watching Browns games from the sidelines, too. And that mindset may change this Sunday.
It’s not surprising that Johnny Manziel is frustrated. Although he dropped like a rock in the first round of the NFL Draft, he was still scooped up with the 22nd pick and thought he’d have a chance to start. During the preseason he and current starting QB Brian Hoyer shared reps, leading to the rare photo above of Manziel getting meaningful playing time.
Eventually coach Pettine named Hoyer the starter, but not before ruling out the possibility of a dual-QB system. The idea was straight out of the la Chip Kelly playbook for a few seasons when Kelly was coaching the University of Oregon Ducks football team. That two-QB system hasn’t worked out, though, with Hoyer predicted to start well through this week’s Week 9 Browns game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Yet if coach Pettine’s comments today are to be believed, Manziel may be poised to see some playing time.
Pettine told ESPN that Johnny Football has shown “flashes” of first-round talent in practice, but that he and the rest of the Browns coaching staff really need to evaluate Manziel in live game situations.
“All the games are meaningful. If it ever gets to the point where we’re potentially up big, down big, or if there’s a situation that calls for him to go in, we’ll get an opportunity to see him,” said Pettine. “But there’s a lot of football left to be played. You’re looking for an evaluation at some point, but I don’t think you can force it.”
Pettine may not have to force it. This week’s Browns game comes against the 1-6 Buccaneers, a team that’s won its last three games against the Browns but is primed to drop this year’s matchup.
The 4-3 Browns are certainly no powerhouse this year, especially on defense, but Tampa Bay is dead last or close to it in just about every statistical category. If there’s ever to be a game when the Browns are up by a bunch and can afford to give Manziel some reps, this Sunday’s Bucs / Browns game is the one.
So, while Johnny Manziel is frustrated and “quiet” around the practice facility, certainly two attributes we’re not used to reading about him, he may get to build his case for being a starting NFL QB just a few days from now.