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.
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.)