Browns

Counterpoint: Let the Johnny Manziel era begin…As a starter

Johnny Manziel SI cover

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In a recent post published within the confines of this here website, WFNY’s Craig Lyndall laid out his reasons why Johnny Manziel should start his season on the bench. It’s a popular school of thought that I tend to agree with 99.9 percent of the time—putting the rookie in the backup role gives the newbie a chance to take his lumps and learn from the veteran.

But  Manziel is no ordinary rookie. He’s the franchise-changer the Browns have been waiting for since Bernie Kosar was diagnosed with “diminishing skills.”

Manziel’s supposed to be in a quarterback competition. I hope that’s true, because if Johnny Football shows he can play, he needs to be under center. To make him ride the pine would be like the Cavs sitting LeBron James after taking him No. 1 overall in 2003. Manziel wasn’t the Browns’ first choice in this year’s draft, but his impact can be the same as the King’s.

The Browns are trying to say the right things when handling Manziel. Owner Jimmy Haslam told a group of season ticket holders that the Heisman winner is the backup. Recent comments from GM Ray Farmer echoed those feelings. But if there was one player in the draft who could come in and start, it’s Manziel. He’s not the player you sit on the sidelines and develop. If the Browns wanted a project, Tom Savage was available.

[Related: With Johnny Manziel, Things Will Be Different. Right?]

Start Manziel if he shows the capability. The Seahawks didn’t balk making Russell Wilson the starter after signing Matt Flynn in free agency. Wilson was better. The rest is history. Johnny Football is the type of player who can change the Browns’ fortunes for the next decade. Granted, his ability to do that right now is all based on hype. There’s only one way to know if he can have a Wilson/Seahawks impact. He’s got to play.

Remember when it looked like Manziel was being hand delivered to Dallas? And then the Cowboys passed him up for a lineman. Dallas is a franchise that welcomes sideshows, drama and hype, and even Jerry Jones didn’t want to pull the trigger. Stephen Jones, Jerry’s son and an executive vice president with the team, told this to season ticket holders on a conference call shortly after the draft.

“…I think it will be really hard for a guy like Johnny Manziel to sit on the bench and watch. That was a factor in our decision making. I don’t think he’s like an Aaron Rodgers who was very patient and watched Brett Favre for two or three years to wait his turn.”

Brian Hoyer is a sympathetic figure in this tale. He’s a local guy who actually made the Browns relevant for three games in 2013. He’s coming off major knee survey after finally getting his shot as a starter. He’s the underdog of underdogs. Everybody roots for him.

But Hoyer’s jersey isn’t the one flying off the shelf. Hoyer didn’t sell season tickets the day after the draft. Hoyer doesn’t make Berea the NFL media capital. Fortunately Hoyer is probably one of the rare few who can deal with having Manziel as a backup. He played that role himself and watched one of the all tine greats in the process.

But if Manziel is better, the Browns need to start him. The Manziel era is here. Embrace it.

(Editor’s Note: Yes, we’re aware of the Manziel news which came out earlier this morning. You know the rules.)

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  • Ezzie Goldish

    If Manziel truly beats out Hoyer by a mile like Wilson did, that’s one thing. But if (more likely) he looks good but isn’t quite ready, and/or Hoyer looks fine for now, I’d much rather have Manziel sit and watch and learn until we hit that point where he’s so clearly superior to the coaching staff that they feel compelled to play him. That’s what almost all of the modern-day NFL playoff QBs who weren’t overall #1s (Peyton, Luck, Cam, and dare I say Alex Smith) did – from Rodgers to Brees to Rivers to Brady to Kaepernick to Foles.

    In fact, of the 12 playoff QBs last year, you had four #1 overall picks; six guys who sat to start; Russell Wilson, who was supposed to but beat out Matt Flynn; and finally, Andy Dalton.

    Don’t be the Bengals. Let Johnny sit.

  • nj0

    I also would rather have the expendable Hoyer playing behind a line that is learning a new offense. There’s probably going to be a learning curve and I’d rather not see our #1 QB OF THE FUTURE!!! taking unnecessary hits if he doesn’t have to.

  • TomWFNY

    Speaking of the Rules, I looked at that page because, well, I haven’t in a while. It still talks about Gravatars. Is that a thing anymore since you switched to Disqus?

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    I think they’re a “thing,” but you have to go throgh Disqus now rather than WordPress. Might be worth updating that on our end.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    I get the feeling ol’ Johnny will run himself into plenty of those unnecessary hit all on his own, whenever he ultimately plays.

  • MrCleaveland

    This is what I hate about Johnny Fever: the complete irrationality of some of the arguments. To wit:

    1. “But Manziel is no ordinary rookie. He’s the franchise-changer the Browns have been waiting for . . .”

    And we know this how? He’s had a handful of light practices. Jeez, Nick, settle down.

    2. “To make him ride the pine would be like the Cavs sitting LeBron James after taking him No. 1 overall in 2003.”

    Huh? WHAT?????

    3. “But if there was one player in the draft who could come in and start, it’s Manziel.”

    Really? Not Gilbert? Not Bitonio? Only Manziel?

    4. “The Seahawks didn’t balk making Russell Wilson the starter after signing Matt Flynn in free agency.”

    So? What does that have to do with us?

    5. “. . . even Jerry Jones didn’t want to pull the trigger.”

    Again, what difference does that make?

    And last and certainly best . . .

    6. “But Hoyer’s jersey isn’t the one flying off the shelf. Hoyer didn’t sell
    season tickets the day after the draft. Hoyer doesn’t make Berea the
    NFL media capital.”

    Seriously? These are valid reasons to start Manziel?

    Nick, please, go breathe into a paper bag and collect yourself. I know you can do better than this. You could hardly do worse.

  • Sam Gold

    “But if Manziel is better, the Browns need to start him.”

    IF!

    If he is and gives us the best chance to win then start him. But…if he doesn’t start are you willing to accept that this coaching staff knows what they’re doing, or at least grant them the benefit of the doubt until/unless they show that they don’t know what they’re doing, and let Hoyer start as the best QB to help us WIN? Manziel is the hoped for franchise guy for the next decade; that decade isn’t all tied up in the first game of this season.

  • ItsMarkieB

    So you would be in favor of starting a quarterback who’s not ready over other guys that play better than him in camp? Good idea. But Gee, why does that story sound so familiar? Oh, Brandon Weeden! You start the players that play the best. Thats the point of a competition. Lol. You clearly must’ve bought a Manziel jersey and wouldn’t wanna wear it if he lost the competition. Lol

  • TobaccoRoad

    Play whoever gives the Browns the best chance to WIN.