Dick LeBeau expects Johnny Manziel under center on Week 1

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Could the Cleveland Browns really consider starting a rookie quarterback against Dick LeBeau and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Week 1? LeBeau appears to think so, taking what has recently transpired in Browns Training Camp and extrapolating it toward the first week of the 2014 regular season.

“I’m expecting (Johnny) Manziel to be the starter,” LeBeau told Cleveland.com’s Tom Reed. “That’s what I’m expecting. What he did in college is not an accident. He did it often enough against good teams. […]

“I think he is going to be a handful for all of us,” said LeBeau, a Pro Football Hall of Famer. “You watch all his games and he created plays, he made plays, he kept plays alive.

“He has the ability to see people and the touch with the football to get it in there late in the down. I think he will be successful at this level.”

Could there be some gamesmanship taking place? Reed added that other organizations, while not as willing to go on the record like LeBeau, privately believe that the Browns are slowly moving toward making Manziel, the No. 22 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Opening Day starter.

While Brian Hoyer is presently listed as the No. 1 quarterback on the team’s depth chart, and is expected to start this weekend against the Detroit Lions, Manziel has been picking up steam, flashing his ability to create on the run, make smart decisions—throwing out of bounds, sliding before contact—and general growth when it comes to the team’s playbook.

General belief remains that Hoyer will start the season under center, allowing Manziel to take over at some point down the road as the team’s schedule becomes less onerous.

[Related: The Johnny Football smokescreen is covering the Browns]

(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

  • BenRM

    Call me crazy, but I don’t want to see JFF starting on the road, in Pittsburgh, without Gordon.

    If we are going to throw someone to the wolves, it may as well be a guy who has some experience under his belt.

  • Garry_Owen

    Based on the last decade and a half, I guess I’d be fine if the Browns listened to the Steelers coaching staff. Track record, and all . . .

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  • Sam Gold

    Dick LeMindf*ck.

  • saggy

    from all that i have heard, I’m in the belief that Manzeil is pretty far behind Hoyer. I just figured the gap was too insurmountable to be bridged by the time a week-1 starter would be announced.
    Anyone hear of anything different?

  • maxfnmloans

    Jason Pinkston, voice of reason:

    Depth charts mean nothing until you have 53 don't get caught up in that. Sep 7 depth chart is the only one that has meaning.— Jason Pinkston (@JasonPinkstonOL) August 5, 2014

  • Hopwin

    Didn’t the Squealers say the same things about Colt McCoy? Oh yeah:

  • Natedawg86

    “He can do it all — run, pass, paint the fence and walk the dog,”
    I think Colt spent too much time walking the dog and painting.

  • nj0

    Jim Rome mentioned something yesterday about how Manziel was neck and neck with Hoyer. He didn’t name any sources. So while yes I have heard different, I have not heard anything substantiated. From everything I’ve read, the offense has played second fiddle to the defense for most of training camp. I’ve read good about Hoyer at times and “meh” things about Manziel.

    I think this is all media created hype.

  • architrance

    Sliding before contact? Franchise Savior!*

  • Jeremy Campbell

    I liken this to when a larger than life sports figure rubs the head of the young fan that is totally star struck and then that sports figure turning to his teammate and saying how much he hates kids.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    What it really seems like is that Brian Hoyer is not as physically talented as Johnny Manziel, but way ahead mentally for the time being, and while not flashy, is competent as a QB. In games Johnny may have flashes due to those skills, but Hoyer will be the dependable one. The plan is for Hoyer to start until Johnny is caught up mentally (and the longer Hoyer is good the more time Johnny has to prepare), and then eventually Johnny will take over once he’s clearly surpassed Hoyer.

    Best comparison is Alex Smith/Colin Kaepernick.

  • RGB
  • nj0

    Yes he is. His schtick is tiring, but he actually does really good interviews with people from all over sports, not just big names.

  • Harv 21

    Gotta love LeBeau. After 120 years in the NFL he’s yet to comment on an offensive player who doesn’t really impress and worry him. Up until the moment his defense crushes them. Be fun to pull up his Weeden and Jason Campbell quotes.

  • nj0

    I guess it’s a question of what we mean by “physically talented”
    In terms of height, Smith > Hoyer > Manziel
    Manziel is clearly more mobile than both.
    I’m not draftniky enough to know about arm strength and that sort of thing.

    Just not sure I think any of that makes Manziel the better QB nor gives him the higher ceiling necessarily.

  • nj0

    I saw a stat from a story a season or two ago: LeBeau was at the time 14-1 against rookie QBs.

  • MrCleaveland

    Speaking of Steelers coaches, anyone who’s seen those incessant Time Warner Cable commercials has concluded by now that Bill Cowher has gone from annoying eavesdropper to creepy home invader. For his next ad, I expect him to show up in some couple’s bedroom while they’re in the sack.

    He’s taken the Worst Commercial Spokesman title away from that dipwad who walks around the mall during Christmastime and chats up people about Ford trucks.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Reverse psychology 101

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    He’s to blame for what ESPN has become!

  • humboldt

    ” I expect him to show up [in Strongsville] in some couple’s bedroom while they’re in the sack.”


  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Well, Weeden did beat the Steelers his rookie season. One of only two rookies to ever beat him.

  • nj0

    Rome may be an overall negative on the sports media world, but his products are heads and tails beyond what ESPN puts out. And he’s never been an ESPN employee, has he?

  • DJ
  • nj0

    Yeah, I’m aware of JRiB, but I always thought that was produced by his own company (along with ESPN). It always seemed to me that he operated with a lot more independence than the Bristol shows. Basically: less an employee and more of a contractor. Guess it’s semantics.

  • mgbode

    the dude lost to Josh Cribbs playing QB, so he’s not all that good 😉

  • mgbode

    Q: Do you believe him?
    A: Well, I don’t believe that anyone is really 100% a
    Q: No, do you believe he’s here to help!


  • mgbode

    and yet he still has a less annoying post-Stiller career than Terry Bradshaw

  • mgbode
  • Harv 21

    dang! why did we cut him again?

  • DJ

    I’m with Jerry. Adjacent to refuse, is refuse.

  • MrCleaveland

    You mean you don’t care for the keen wit and nonstop jock-ularity of the FOX pre-game show, “Grab-Assin’ with Terry, Howie, and the Good Ol’ Boys”? However on earth do you spend your pre-game hour?

  • mgbode

    he is still on that show? amazing.

    I am thankful that he only has 1 movie to his credit. I am much less than thankful that I was drug out to see said movie and he decided it was a good idea to moon the audience.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    His controversial show/interview style is the model ESPN used since. It’s what has given a platform to the likes of Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless and the rest of the know it alls who for some reason think they are competent to speak on not only sports but just about anything else. You see how well that worked for Smith. No chance he learns his lesson he’ll be subtle and play it cool for awhile but this won’t be his last controversial statement made on the air ways.

  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Because he couldn’t beat anyone else? 😉

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    I have no doubt that Dick LeBeau is HOPING that Manziel starts at least

  • nj0

    Who was he playing there? The Gotham Knights? The Cleveland Thunderbolts? A CFL team? Oh, sorry. Duke.

  • nj0

    Maybe. I didn’t listen to him back in the day. I’m only talking about how he is now. I like his interviews. And he use to have intelligent discussion with his guests on Rome is Burning.

    I’ll agree that Rome stepped up the idiocy in sports talk, but not anywhere near as much as ESPN has over the last decade.

  • nj0

    In his defense, he cut bait with them. Maybe it was just business, but still….

    (God, am I actually defending Jim Rome. Stupid internet.)

  • mgbode

    Still, it’s that he keeps his eyes downfield while keeping the play alive that I love. Obviously, doing it against NFL defenses will be tougher and the guys that do it tend to be bigger (Ben, Eli, Cam).

    But, Shanahan could never get RGIII to do the same and it was one of the big reasons for his regression last year.

    There was one play near the end of the 1st half in a game I watched where RGIII made a similar type escape to the above, had Alfred Morris wide open down the sideline much like above, yet tucked it and ran for 5 yds instead.

  • nj0

    I look at that video and I see a terrible defense. I seriously don’t get why some consider it such an impressive highlight. Well, it’s impressive in the same way seeing the matured-early kid run over the normal kids in youth football.

    If Manziel is going to make it in the NFL, it won’t be because he’s displaying the skill set in that video. Just my opinion.

  • mgbode

    because he keeps watching the routes and is always looking to pass. breakdowns happen in the NFL too if you have a QB who can escape (and that is a definite question of if JFF can keep doing it in the NFL):