After losing 13-12 in Detroit, Cleveland Browns rookie head coach Mike Pettine stated that he planned on naming his Week 1 starter on the road in Pittsburgh. After Monday’s loss, he may have identified his starter in Manziel, as was able to do what Brian Hoyer could not in putting the ball in the end zone.
In a game in which both Hoyer and Manziel didn’t play lights-out, both QB’s appeared to press in missing some throws, Manziel did just enough to be named the starting quarterback as he—once again—was able to make plays outside the pocket and sustain drives with timely throws.
Make no mistake, both Hoyer and Manziel was atrocious thanks to missing open wide receivers—who in their part failed to gain separation and fight to get downfield—critics will point out his lack of accuracy and inability to pick up the blitz and identify the hot route—like Hoyer—Manziel left some plays on the field and still needs some proverbial seasoning.
Aside from getting sacked three times and making an obscene gesture worth $11K towards the Redskins bench, Manziel helped his cause, as Hoyer failed to show up in looking out of sync, inaccurate and unable to convert on third down.
Through two games, Hoyer has completed 8-of-20 passes for 108 yards, zero touchdowns in seven series. Hoyer is also failed to gain one first down in seven attempts and zero rushing yards, as opposed to Manziel who in eight series has completed 14-of-27 passes for 128 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, 26 rushing yards and is seven-of-14 on third down.
They say that numbers never lie, as a majority of Manziel’s numbers came mostly against second and third stringers, Hoyer’s numbers against first-stringers should be cause for concern in Cleveland, as he looked like he tried to force things.
Then again, based on that logic, third-stringer Connor Shaw should line up under center vs. the Steelers then, as he would also come in late and throw a late touchdown pass and 123 yards in seven minutes of action.
Manziel’s eight-yard touchdown pass on an inside screen to Dion Lewis may not seem like much to Browns fan in a meaningless preseason game, but come regular season, the Browns will need a quarterback who can score touchdowns and be mobile enough to get out of the pocket, which sounds a lot more like Manziel than Hoyer at this stage.
Both quarterbacks were plagued by numerous penalties, so it may still be inconclusive as to which signal-caller that Pettine will tab.
If his post-game comments after the game mean anything, it’s Manziel, but the Browns need to be comfortable with their choice and be able to live with the results. Perhaps the Browns should hold off on naming their starter after the third pre-season game.
Then again, who knows? This is the Browns, right?
While he didn’t look great, Manziel looked slightly better than Hoyer, which should at least give Cleveland an idea of which direction they should go.
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