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NFL: Johnny Manziel Era to Begin Against Bengals Amid Playoff Push


Brian Hoyer struggled the last two weeks. He showed regression. He is not throwing on target like he was for the first half of the season.

Sunday’s game against the Colts brought fears about Hoyer to the forefront. The numbers do not lie as Hoyer threw for 140 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. He also struggled two weeks ago in Buffalo as he threw for 192 yards, no touchdowns and interceptions.

Alarming anomaly for Hoyer

The interceptions have been alarming as he threw for seven interceptions in the last three games.

Change of scenery

Johnny Manziel (December 7, 2014 - Source: Jason Miller/Getty Images North America)
Johnny Manziel (December 7, 2014 – Source: Jason Miller/Getty Images North America)

A change at quarterback is like a pleasant change of scenery in Cleveland. Browns fans often embrace the backup quarterback with good reason: starting quarterbacks almost always fail Browns fans.

Johnny Manziel, the former Heisman Trophy winner out of Texas A/M will bring the refreshing change. Hoyer has been a winner for the most part as his record as Browns starter speaks for itself. However, in the midst of the playoff push, the Browns need to find a quick solution as time is running out.

Tough decision, tough road ahead

If the Browns win the final three games of the season with two games being against division opponents, they will likely seal the envelope on the invitation to the playoffs. It will be a done deal and the mission will be accomplished.

However, in order to do be in a prime situation to advance to the Wild Card round, Coach Mike Pettine made a tough decision. He decided to name Manziel the starter.

Pettine said, “This decision is really not about Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel, it is about the Cleveland Browns.”

The best thing about Manziel is his ability to extend plays that appear “dead”. He is capable of keeping a defense off balance with his speed and impressive arm strength.

It is important to not view this as a reckless decision to just throw the rookie on the field merely for the sake of building for next year. The decision has to do with a rare opportunity to play in the post-season.

If it were not for a tough but advantageous schedule consisting of the Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens, the Browns could easily waive the white flag. However, with such a crucial series of three games, with two of them in the AFC North, tough decisions have to be made.

Normally at this time of the year, the Browns are surrendering and focusing of that hated phrase “wait until next year”.

The decision to start Manziel may prove that the Browns are moving past of the idea of rebuilding. If Manziel plays as good as he is hyped up to be and leads the Browns to the promised land of the playoffs, he will quickly rise as Cleveland’s new sports hero. Perhaps he will never ascend to the stardom and fanfare that LeBron James relishes. However, the chance to accomplish the mission of leading the Browns to the post-season should be irresistible to the quarterback who waited in frustration for his chance.

Now Manziel has to make something happen. He must shred the defenses of the Bengals, Panthers and Ravens thus ensuring the Browns make the sixth and final seed.

The game the Browns will likely have the biggest challenge at M&T Bank Stadium when they make the dreaded trip to face the Ravens in their nest.

 


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