Should the Browns Seriously Consider Manziel Right Now?Added - Nov. 26, 2014 - Comments
In Cleveland, quarterback Brian Hoyer is struggling. But does that mean the Browns should seriously consider replacing him with Johnny Manziel? This is actually a subject that is coming up these days, and we cannot sit here and tell you that the coaching staff is addressing it definitively enough.
Admittedly, Hoyer fits the profile of a journeyman in this league, but he was a veteran presence, and the intention on the part of first-year coach Mike Pettine was that he gave the team the best chance to win and that he would hold the position until such time as Manziel proved himself ready to lead a team in the NFL. But both quarterbacks performed so badly in the pre-season that Pettine had to revisit the issue. Finally, he settled on Hoyer to move forward.
And his instincts seemed to be correct; Hoyer is not a high percentage passer – in fact, he's only completed 56% of his throws – but he didn't do a lot of things to beat his team, and he is a natural leader. The Browns, who have not had any hope for years, are 7-5 at the moment and very much in the AFC North race. That most likely wouldn't happen with Manziel at the helm, because of the huge learning curve he has to go through.
But Hoyer is going through a rough stretch; in a game against Houston three weeks ago he completed 20 out of 50 passes, and last week against Buffalo's rock-ribbed defense he was 18 for 30 with two interceptions. In between, he led the Browns to a road victory in Atlanta, highlighted by a march down the field with time running out to kick the game-winning field goal. That has happened a few times under Hoyer; in fact, he led the charge on the biggest road comeback of all time, as Cleveland came from 25 points down to beat Tennessee in their fourth game of the season.
There are a lot of things to admire about Manziel, who came into last week's game in a relief role and led the team to a touchdown. He is a born improviser, and everyone knows how mobile he is. But he is not quite ready to take a team in the middle of the playoff chase and leave it down the stretch. Pettine has done too many positive things this season to make a wrong move now. And the Browns' players have too much riding on the outcome of these remaining games. Johnny Football will have his time, but that time is not in the last four games of the 2014 season.