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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the tag “Johnny Manziel”

Nothing to see here … or is there?

manziel first team repsCleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine sure knows how to start off a week of practice.

On Monday, rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel took over the first-team offense for the first time in training camp and the nation was all abuzz.

Pettine stressed after practice that this was all part of the master plan and that Brian Hoyer will still be the starting quarterback when the Browns face Detroit on Saturday in the team’s first preseason friendly … unless he’s not.

“I would still say that’s true (that Hoyer will be the starter on Saturday), but I can’t say it’s 100 percent at this point,” Pettine said in published reports. “But I would still say there’s a more than reasonable chance he’ll be the starter against Detroit. That had been the plan. I just want to confirm with (the offensive coaching staff) and see where they are with it.

“I don’t think we’ll (have Manziel with the starters) for the entire week. We’ll meet at some point midweek to discuss how we want to handle the reps in the Detroit game.”

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5 Questions in 5 Days: Hoyer vs. Manziel – Part 2

browns training hoyer manziel 5Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel?

The answer to which of the two will be the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns is one that head coach Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan simply have to get right if they are to be part of the regime that finally turns this franchise around.

Manziel is one of the most-dynamic college players we’ve seen in a long time. We watched his games last fall at Texas A&M and were consistently entertained. But at the same time we couldn’t help but worry that we wouldn’t be able to take watching him play 16 times a year for the Browns.

That all changed in May when the Browns selected Manziel in the first round of the NFL Draft. Now he’s part of Cleveland – for better or worse.

If Manziel can translate his college game to the NFL level he has the talent, competitiveness and presence to lead this team from the NFL wilderness back to a level we haven’t seen since the late 1980s.

The decision facing Pettine and Shanahan is not a question of if Manziel will be the starting quarterback, but a question of when. If this was Minnesota the answer would be a simple one. With a roster that includes Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel at quarterback, there is little reason for the Vikings to not turn the team over to rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Which brings us to Brian Hoyer.

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5 Questions in 5 Days: Hoyer vs. Manziel – Part 1

browns training camp quarterbacksIf there is one thing that Cleveland Browns fans are far too familiar with, it is quarterback competitions during training camp.

From Romeo Crennel flipping a coin to choose between Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson, to quarterback battles pitting Tim Couch vs. Kelly Holcomb, Brady Quinn vs. Anderson, and Brandon Weeden vs. Jason Campbell, Browns fans have seen more than their share of underwhelming bouts.

Now here we are in 2014 and the latest quarterback fight that is all the talk: Brian Hoyer vs. Johnny Manziel.

This competition is different than previous ones, however. In past years, we’ve seen the head coach mismanaged the process by constantly switching from quarterback to quarterback, never allowing either player to find a rhythm. Or else they were faced with having to choose a quarterback not based on who gave the team the best chance to win, but rather who was the least likely to screw things up.

While head coach Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan can still mess this up if they make the wrong decision, or make the right decision at the wrong time, at least they are facing a decision that should have a positive outcome.

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From the editor’s notebook …

luis suarez back sideLiverpool made it official on Friday, agreeing to a £75 million pound deal with Barcelona for striker Luis Suárez.

And so ends one of the more bizarre three years for a player and a club.

It’s hard to know how much Liverpool will miss Suárez, who is as talented as anyone playing the game when he wants to be. But the fact that the club no longer trust that Suárez won’t do something stupid on the pitch makes the move a necessary one. After his latest incident at the World Cup, it seems pretty clear that club officials decided they needed to do something while they could still get top value for Suárez. And it is not hard to think they felt a bit betrayed, as well, as the club has done nothing but support Suárez from the moment he arrived from Ajax in January 2011.

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Should the Browns be more worried about Johnny Manziel?

manziel las vegasWhen the Cleveland Browns called Johnny Manziel’s name during the NFL Draft back in May, everyone involved knew what they were getting in to with the high-profile quarterback.

With very little actual football activities taking place since that day, the national media has had a field day chronicling Manziel’s off-the-field antics. From pool parties with Rob Gronkowski, to money phones and inflatable swans, there has been no shortage of talking points for those people who care about such things. And with a little more than a month until training camp starts, there will undoubtedly be more opportunities to shine a light on Manziel.

For the most part we’ve tried to drown out the noise, partially because as a Browns fan we’d be perfectly happy if the national media minded their own business, and also because it is the off-season and what Manziel does with his free time is up to him.

But is there possibly more to this situation, a darker side that, as a Browns fan, we don’t want to confront?

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From the editor’s notebook …

manziel las vegas“There is something un-American about a young man not wanting to spend time with the ladies.” – Joe Namath

When the Cleveland Browns selected quarterback Johnny Manziel in the NFL Draft a few weeks ago the team knew what it was getting itself into with Manziel, who is a modern-day Joe Namath in terms of publicity.

Last week it was Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback report that Manziel “never had a playbook” while at Texas A&M. Of course, the Aggies had a weekly game plan with actual plays that Manziel was expected to learn and execute, which, as Eric Davis pointed out one morning on the NFL Network, is the same as having an actual playbook! (That is one of the reasons we enjoy the NFL Network over ESPN; instead of trying to be the loudest (and stupidest) person in the conversation, Davis, Steve Wyche, Terrell Davis and the rest of the rotating panel on NFL A.M. actually talk to one another in an effort to make sense.)

Then, over the weekend, came the news that Manziel spent his holiday in Las Vegas; hanging out with New England’s Rob Gronkowski, attending a UFC fight, joining in at a pool party and generally doing the kinds of things that people do when they visit Las Vegas.

Manziel also did one more thing over the weekend (at least according to him) – he studied his playbook as he prepares for the next round of OTAs with the Browns.

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Browns wide receiver search mirroring QB quandary

browns release greg littleThe Cleveland Browns continued to rebuild and reshape their wide receiver corps this week as they wait for official word on the future of Josh Gordon.

The Browns released fourth-year wide receiver Greg Little on Friday in a bit of a surprise move, if only because the position chart is a bit questionable right now. Little had a disappointing three seasons in Cleveland after being drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft out or North Carolina. While he came across as a player who always gave a good effort on game day, Little just wasn’t very productive.

He finishes his Cleveland career with 155 receptions (and seemingly almost as many drops), 1,821 yards and eight touchdowns. Both his receptions and yards decreased each year he was with the Browns, and his 14 dropped passes as a rookie with the second-highest in the league. He also ran the second-most pass routes in 2013, but somehow 102 players managed to gain more receiving yards than him.

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There is room on the Browns for both Manziel and Hoyer

johnny manziel jerseyIt has been less than a week since the Cleveland Browns drafted Johnny Manziel, but the noise surrounding the rookie quarterback has not dulled for a moment.

Consider that, since last Thursday night:

  • Manziel’s jersey has been the NFL’s top seller on its website since April 1;
  • There have been silly reports from anonymous sources (naturally) that the Browns intended to draft Teddy Bridgewater, only to have owner Jimmy Haslam step in and switch the pick, a notion that head coach Mike Pettine awesomely called “beyond laughable”;
  • Bridgewater has acted like a spurned lover, telling ESPN that he never wanted to play for Cleveland anyway after the Browns passed on him; and,
  • The media is criticizing the Browns for having Manziel and fellow first-round draft pick Justin Gilbert appear together at their introductory news conference, “forcing” members of the press to ignore Gilbert so they could ask Manziel important questions about LeBron James.

And to think, this has all occurred before Manziel has actually done something that means anything for the Browns. It is hard to imagine what it will be like once Manziel is actually on the field this fall. (Actually, it’s not. It is going to be either incredibly awesome or incredibly horrific.)

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Get ready Cleveland, Johnny Football is coming to town

browns draft manzielAre you ready for some (Johnny) football, Cleveland?

It’s been almost 24 hours and we’re still wrapping our head around the fact that the Cleveland Browns walked out of the first round of the NFL Draft with not only the top cornerback, Justin Gilbert, and one of the top quarterbacks, Johnny Manziel, but a second No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. It was a performance by general manager Ray Farmer that was befitting the setting of Radio City Music Hall. (And one that, given a 100 chances, former general manager Mike Lombardi could never pull off.)

In Gilbert, the Browns are getting a player that Mike Mayock describes as “the prototype cornerback in today’s NFL,” one who is reportedly “explosively quick and a natural interceptor with very good hand-eye coordination, leaping ability and overall ball skills.”

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