The Johnny Football smokescreen is covering the Browns

Manziel Pass 140726

Stop me if you’ve seen this story before, but there might be some quarterback controversy brewing in Cleveland. Brian Hoyer, the incumbent, has been firmly atop the depth chart since Johnny Manziel, the challenger, was drafted. Even as the career backup was recovering from ACL surgery, he was considered the man to beat. That continued into Training Camp as the hometown kid took all the snaps with the first-team offense. That was, until today, the Monday before the Browns’ first pre-season game against the Detroit Lions when Johnny Manziel took snaps with the ones.

It’s all anyone can talk about and it’s shielding the Browns organization from a whole host of other questions so far in camp. Now that Manziel is getting starter’s reps in practice, if the smokescreen wasn’t in full effect for the Browns before, it’s getting pretty thick now.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the Browns are intentionally doing anything but run camp to the best of their ability. At the same time, I see how things are going and it makes me wonder what it all would look like if Rob Chudzinski (Joe Banner) or Pat Shurmur were running the show with quarterbacks not named Manziel.

After Monday’s practice, Mike Pettine played off Manziel’s starter’s reps like it was just a part of the plan. It was always in the plan to give Johnny some run with the ones. When asked who would start against the Lions, Pettine initially tried to play it close to the vest before a reporter reminded him that he said earlier in camp that Hoyer would start that game. Pettine handled it reasonably well, considering he was caught not remembering what he’d said in the past. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a bit all over the place.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense either. I get switching it up and giving each QB a look with the best personnel group, but shouldn’t it align with the upcoming game? If I’m Mike Pettine and Kyle Shanahan and I’m preparing this team to get ready to play each week, I wouldn’t necessarily think rotating the quarterbacks to Johnny Manziel on Monday if I’ve been on record saying that Brian Hoyer is going to start on Saturday and that’s my plan.

It’s not just providing cover for the Browns at quarterback. After Josh Gordon, the Browns have giant question marks at receiver. They’ve got some young intriguing guys and some older oft-injured guys, but it’s hard to have much more confidence in this crew than even a year ago with Greg Little and Davone Bess on the team. I don’t say that to slight the guys here, but none of them are a sure thing and Gordon’s status in the NFL’s substance program makes him the ultimate question mark.

Never mind that, though! All the clamoring to see Johnny Football on the field has seemed to keep much of that talk at bay. There’s a realistic chance that your starting wide receivers out of camp this year could be some combination of Miles Austin, Nate Burleson and Andrew Hawkins. You can hope for the best with that, but let’s just say those guys aren’t going to rock most of your fantasy league drafts.

Simultaneously, I don’t see a ton of people discussing the Browns running backs and just how much the team might run the ball this year. As reporters and fans count the passes and completions, I’m trying to guess just how many carries the Browns might dole out to Ben Tate and Terrance West this season. This isn’t even to mention Dion Lewis coming off his broken leg or Edwin Baker, Isaiah Crowell or even “fullback” Chris Ogbonnaya. For all the question marks around the Browns wide receivers, there’s legitimate, quality competition at running back, which could be far more important to the Browns’ offense.

These are all just examples, of course. I find myself being distracted by the aura of Johnny Manziel too, getting obsessed with offense and the quarterback position, so I’m not claiming my walls aren’t also glass. I find it interesting though. I’ve probably been a bit naive, but heaven help these guys if they come out of the gate and lose their first three. No smokescreen is thick enough to shield the Browns from that.

(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

 

  • RGB

    “These are all just examples, of course. I find myself being distracted by the aura of Johnny Manziel too, getting obsessed with offense and the quarterback position, so I’m not claiming my walls aren’t also glass. I find it interesting though. I’ve probably been a bit naive, but heaven help these guys if they come out of the gate and lose their first three. No smokescreen is thick enough to shield the Browns from that.”

    http://stream1.gifsoup.com/view3/1646086/kaa-o.gif

  • mgbode

    I’m hoping the glass is a bit thicker than usual this season so it doesn’t break so easy.

    http://stream1.gifsoup.com/view/86320/breaking-glass-o.gif

  • https://twitter.com/Steve_Not_Chad Steve_Not_Chad

    After Gordon, i would say a giant question mark at the No.2 WR. I’m pretty sure Hawkins has locked up the No.3 WR.

  • mgbode

    Its easy to talk about, its easy to sum it up when you just talk about practice. We sittin’ in here, JFF supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talkin’ about practice. I mean listen, we talkin bout practice. Not a game, not a game, not a game. We talkin bout practice. Not a game, not a, not a, not the game that Hoyer go out there and die for, and play every game like its his last. Not the game. We talkin’ bout practice, man. I mean how silly is that? We talkin’ bout practice.

    I know he’s supposed to be out there, I know he’s supposed to lead by example. I know that, and I’m not shovin’ it aside, you know, like it don’t mean anything. I know its important, I do. I honestly do.

    But we talkin’ bout practice, man. What are we talkin’ bout? Practice? We talkin’ bout practice man. We talk… We talkin’ bout practice. We talkin’ bout practice. We ain’t talkin’ bout the game, we talkin’ bout practice, man. When you come onto the field, and you see Hoyer play, you see JFF play, don’t you? You see them give everything they got, right? But we talkin’ bout practice right now. We talkin’ bout practice. (crowd laughs)

    Man look, I hear you, its funny to me too. I mean, its strange, its strange to me too. But we talkin’ bout practice man. We not even talkin’ bout the game, the actual game, when it matters. We talkin’ bout practice.

  • mgbode

    From what I hear and read, Hawkins appears to have picked up the Braylon, Bess, Little gloves for catching thus far in camp. The ones that have bricks attached to the palm. I certainly hope the he returns them for the JoeJ version before things really matter.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    I have yet to read a single article or tweet that gives the impression, outside of the occasional throw, that Manziel has been anything but mediocre thus far–and that’s probably a kind interpretation on my part. And while reports haven’t exactly made Hoyer out to be Otto Graham, they have been consistent in identifying him as the better performer throughout. I have little doubt that, were this anyone but “Johnny Football”, he’d be little more than a blip on the radar, as warranted by his performance.

    The next time I feel anything positive about Manziel a) being a pro QB or b) being a member of the Cleveland Browns will be the first time. Rooting hard for Mariota to be in brown and orange in 2015.

  • Pat Leonard

    Keep doing your usual thing, Buffalo Bills!

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    Between their usual thing and ours, I like our chances

  • RGB

    I have nothing against Buffalo, so despite their current ownership dilema, and Jim Kelly’s health problems, am I a bad person for hoping they go 0-16 this season

  • Pat Leonard

    I think all of us are inherently bad and inherently good. (I may have dodged the question)

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    I generally consider Buffalo and it’s fans to be kindred spirits, but all’s fair in love and future draft picks. It ain’t show friends, it’s show business.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    My sources tell me nothing but positives for Hawkins. Miles Austin even more so.

  • mgbode

    Just please refrain from reading about the Miami Dolphins OL (center in particular), Ryan Tannehill, and the Jets offense.

    Try to focus on that EJ went 0/3 to Watkins in the HOF game and ignore that it’s early in August and that somehow EJ Manuel is the 2nd best QB in the AFC East (wait, what?).

  • mgbode

    stop giving your sources kool-aid!

  • RGB

    Let’s not talk about SAMMY, please.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    A special ganja infused grape I like to call the Gor-Don!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9UPoZDstHM

  • mgbode
  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    Our secondary had better be SPECTACULAR, that’s all I’m sayin’

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    Ah yes, the AFC East

    http://i.imgur.com/bQyT0Qf.gif

  • mgbode

    I hear Belichick cannot even get himself to stay awake during the illegally taped practice sessions anymore.

    http://usatthebiglead.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/billb-feature-2-24-13.jpg

  • RGB
  • Matthew Grant Anson

    Now how the hell am I supposed to make my teammates better by practicin’??

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    No worries it will be the strong suit of the D!

  • https://twitter.com/Steve_Not_Chad Steve_Not_Chad

    No