Johnny Who? Browns Should Stick with Hoyer at Quarterback
By Alex Horowitz
He has never started a professional football game. He has thrown nine total pass attempts, only one of which was a touchdown. And yet when Johnny Manziel entered the game for the Cleveland Browns last Sunday, you would’ve thought he was the second coming of Peyton Manning, based on the reaction of football fans around the nation. “Johnny Football” is more so known for his off-the-field life rather than his football skill, but nowadays that is what captivates people; it’s like the whole Tim Tebow mania from 2011.
Sure, he was a Heisman award winner at Texas A&M, but even two years later he still is one of the more popular players in the National Football League. In this age of Twitter and other types of social media, our society has become fascinated with his “fun” lifestyle, for lack of a better term. While he parties frequently and has been arrested on multiple occasions, this should not impact his talent as a quarterback in the least; the hype has already been bought into though. Cleveland is strongly considering starting Manziel next Sunday versus Indianapolis, but they would be incredibly foolish to do so. Simply put, Manziel has not learned the ropes yet to succeed in this brutal league.
Normally, a young quarterback would need to prove himself over a fairly long period of time in order to win the starting job. In the case of Manziel, what has he done to boost his on-field resume? A 10-yard rushing touchdown started a comeback effort last week, but ultimately the Browns fell short. However, this literally was his only positive play of the season. The majority of his time has been spent on the sideline, learning the ropes from the coaching staff and incumbent starter Brian Hoyer. That’s not to say this experience is not beneficial, because there definitely is value in learning from a seasoned veteran. But the mental side is only half the battle. Having the ability to hit open receivers and escape pressure is an entire challenge in an itself, and one that Manziel is not ready for at this current time- no matter what the media or anyone else makes you believe.
Brian Hoyer certainly is not one of the top quarterbacks in today’s game. His 46.67 total quarterback rating this season ranks 28th among all qualified quarterbacks. Only a handful of signal callers are worse than him in that regard. He has not had much to work with though. His leading receiver, Josh Gordon, was suspended for the first ten weeks, and Cleveland’s running backs have posted the fifth-worst yards-per-carry average league wide. These excuses aside, Hoyer has led the Browns to a 7-5 start, which is the most important statistic of them all. His team is in the thick of the AFC playoff race, something even the most optimistic of fans would have been skeptical of months ago.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This will be a tough concept for Browns fans to accept, but unless they want to be heartbroken yet again, Johnny Manziel must continue to remain the backup quarterback. If the team decides otherwise, then another chapter of disappointment will be added to Cleveland sports lore. Unlike “The Drive”, “The Shot”, or “The Fumble”, this curse will be much more straightforward.
Alex Horowitz is a senior at Briarcliff High School and is an aspiring sports writer. As a lifelong sports fan, he has rooted for the New York Knicks, New York Mets, and Detroit Lions. You can follow him on Twitter @alexhorowitz3