I am a firm believer that Johnny Manziel will be the future of the Cleveland Browns. At the same time, I also believe it may be wiser to have Brian Hoyer start this season. Hoyer proved to be a reliable addition to the Browns last year, leading the team to two victories and starting a third against Buffalo before being injured. Now, I am fully aware Hoyer’s victories came against Minnesota and Cincinnati—teams not really known for their defensive abilities these days. However, Hoyer’s a guy who doesn’t take many risks; which, combined with his several years of NFL experience, makes him the prime candidate to be the starter this season. It’s Hoyer’s job to lose at this point.
What worries me about Manziel has nothing to do with his attributes. I love his arm, love his speed, and love his edgy attitude. I think he’s the perfect fit for Cleveland moving forward. I just don’t feel he is ready to be the starter, something he himself has said. Our first week battle is against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Heinz Field, a hostile environment (especially for a first year player). Manziel could be thrown into week one, light the Steelers up and dominate them, but he could also completely blow a tire and shake his confidence. Manziel is a very high risk high reward option for the Browns at this time—which is why I feel it may be best to start Hoyer for the time being.
Then there is the curious case of Connor Shaw: a largely unproven talent who may very well be cut in favor of Rex Grossman at the end of pre-season. He does possess a strong offensive ability and would be an intriguing option to stash on the practice squad. I expect Grossman to beat out Shaw for third-string duties, but will keep an eye on this kid. He could be a starter somewhere down the road.
At the end of the day, does it matter who gets us the win, as long as we win? I am confident that this will be the last uncertainty we have at the quarterback position in Cleveland. The depth we have and Grossman’s ability to teach Johnny Football is going to be huge down the road. Manziel is spectacular, he is THE guy to lead us to victory in the future. So let’s do all we can to ease him into the starting spot, and be supportive of whoever may be quarterback before him, if anyone. This is the beginning of when the Browns become a serious Super Bowl contender.