Johnny Manziel will begin the NFL season as a backup quarterback. Brian Hoyer has been named the starter by Cleveland Browns head coach, Mike Pettine. Most rookie quarterbacks do not start the first game of their first NFL season, and Johnny Manziel will be no different. Unlike the trend of the past few seasons which has seen Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck start immediately, Manziel will have an opportunity to learn from Hoyer and fellow backup Rex Grossman before stepping into a regular season NFL game.
The Browns have started 20 different quarterbacks since they rejoined the NFL as an expansion franchise in 1999. In that time, the Browns have burned through quarterbacks of virtually every quarterback style and skill set. Before the 2014 NFL Draft, the Browns spent over $100,000 on an advanced study of the quarterback position, and what qualities make up a successful NFL quarterback. The results of this study found that Teddy Bridgewater was the best quarterback in this year’s draft. Even though Bridgewater was still available, the Browns drafted Johnny Football with the 22nd pick.
During his Heisman Trophy winning collegiate career, Johnny Football dazzled fans and frustrated opposing coaches and defenses. His ability to salvage broken plays with excellent awareness and mobility has led to comparisons to Michael Vick and Steve Young. If Manziel lives up to either of those comparisons, his career will have been a success. Brian Hoyer will be under a lot of pressure to succeed immediately. Should Hoyer falter, Johnny Football will be ready to step in and take the starting job. This is why he will succeed.
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10 Manziel Has Jordan Cameron as an Escape Route
Many young quarterbacks like to use their tight ends as escape routes when the pass rush closes in. Jordan Cameron demonstrated last season that he is one of the best young tight ends in the NFL. Cameron had 80 receptions last season and hauled in seven touchdown catches from quarterbacks like Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, and current starter Brian Hoyer. In college, Manziel favored 6’5’’ wide receiver Mike Evans. Cameron stands at 6’5’’ with a similar skill set and large catch radius. He is the perfect safety valve option for Johnny Manziel to use over the next few years.
9 The Browns Have an Easy Schedule
According to last season win percentages, the Cleveland Browns have the sixth easiest schedule in the NFL. Their 2014 opponents had a combined win percentage of just .465 in 2013. From a preseason perspective, the schedule even gives the Browns a perfect opportunity to introduce Manziel after a difficult early season stretch. In the first three weeks of the season, they will face division rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens along with the always dangerous New Orleans Saints. If Hoyer struggles against these teams he could be benched during the Browns’ week 4 bye. This would give Johnny Football a prime opportunity to start during an easier stretch against the Titans, Steelers, Jaguars, and Raiders.
8 Mike Pettine Has Experience With Rookie QBs
Despite working on the defensive side of the ball, Mike Pettine has already been involved with two rookie quarterbacks during his NFL career. During Pettine’s stint with the New York Jets, Mark Sanchez led the team to two consecutive AFC Championship games. Last year with the Buffalo Bills, he worked alongside rookie quarterback EJ Manuel. Pettine has learned from being in team environments that allow rookie QBs to succeed. Well Manuel isn't a success story yet, Sanchez's first two years were definitely huge successes. He is also credited with being a key influence on a former top rated defense, which brings us to the next point.
7 The Browns Defensive Secondary Will help Make Him Better
The Cleveland Browns have one of the most talented defensive backfields in the NFL. With Pro Bowlers Joe Haden and Donte Whitner hawking Manziel in practice every day, Johnny Football will learn against top defensive playmakers. Coach Mike Pettine will continue to improve a defense that was ranked 9th in the league in 2013. The Browns had the 8th best pass defense in the league last season and with the addition of rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert, could be even better. Pettine’s experience with Rex Ryan 's turnover creating defenses will help Cleveland improve on their -8 turnover ratio and give Manziel better starting field positions.
6 Josh Gordon is one of the Elite Weapons in the NFL
Josh Gordon is beginning the 2014 season facing a lengthy suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. When he inevitably returns to the Browns, Gordon will be eager to make up for lost time. In 2013, after serving a two game suspension Gordon went on to rack up 1,646 receiving yards, the most in the league. His breakaway speed and ability to gain yardage after the catch make Gordon a deep threat at all times. Manziel is lucky enough to enter the league with one of the elite wide receivers in his huddle.
5 Manziel Excels at Throwing on the Run
One of Johnny Manziel’s greatest strengths is his mobility. His shifty moves and excellent sense of the pass rush allowed him to create opportunities out of broken plays. Manziel’s ability to throw on the run can be utilized by the Browns offense by moving the pocket and getting Manziel into space where he can make plays. Manziel is a perfect quarterback for the read-option that the Browns have been experimenting with in preseason, because he can hurt defenses on the ground and in the air. The league has seen a huge increase in successful dual-threat QBs like Russell Wilson, Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick, so Manziel can be in the same mold.
4 Lebron James’ LRMR Give Him Solid Management
In January, Johnny Manziel signed with LRMR Management, the marketing firm run by Lebron James’ longtime friend and business partner Maverick Carter. Lebron James had been LRMR’s sole athlete until they signed Johnny Football. Erik Burkhard of Select Sports Group negotiated Manziel’s contract which should net Manziel $8.25 million over the next four years. Manziel has already signed endorsement deals with Panini America and Nike. He also has the top selling jersey on NFL.com. Before ever setting foot on an NFL field, Johnny Football is in a position to succeed financially even if he does flounder on the field.
3 Ben Tate Will Lighten Johnny’s Workload
Ben Tate was a big off season acquisition for the Cleveland Browns. Tate has averaged 4.7 yards per carry over his career. The Brown’s rushing offense has struggled significantly over the last two seasons and averaged only 4.0 yards per attempt last season. This is the first time in Tate’s career that he will be expected to shoulder the brunt of the workload. However, if Tate’s three seasons with the Houston Texans were any indication, he is more than ready to carry his share of the workload.
2 Manziel is a Big Game Player
During Johnny Manziel’s college career, he developed a reputation for beating some of the very best teams in college football. His victory over #1 ranked Alabama as a freshman, thrust Johnny Football into the national spotlight. He set records for offensive production before becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. Playing high pressure football in the SEC is the perfect test for young quarterbacks in the NFL. The SEC crucible has forged NFL quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Eli Manning, and Peyton Manning. Johnny Manziel’s performances in his two career bowl games were nothing short of spectacular. He thrives in the spotlight.
1 He’s Johnny Football
Johnny Football is one of the greatest nicknames currently in sports. He is undeniably entertaining, yet sometimes attracts attention for the wrong reasons. He brings an individual identity that is rarely seen in the NFL. Manziel possesses several key intangible traits that make will make him a good quarterback. Perhaps most important of those traits is his confidence. Johnny Football’s bravado will allow him to persevere in the face of his many detractors. He has been a success at every level in his football career. He has a foundation of supporters on an off the field that are rooting for him to succeed. When he is inevitably given his opportunity to shine, he will succeed.
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