In one corner, you have Brian Hoyer, the journeyman backup who finally got a chance to start for his hometown team last year, leading them to their only watchable games of the season before getting injured. In the other corner, you have Johnny Manziel, the flashy rookie who everyone from ESPN to TMZ hopes will start for the Browns this year. It’s a competition between two players who seem to be polar opposites in both playing style and personality, and it’s one of the biggest stories of the offseason.
Just a couple days into training camp, it’s looking like there’s a clear leader in the race, and it’s the guy with the much quieter social life.
Word coming out of Cleveland’s camp is Hoyer has looked sharper and more consistent than Manziel. Along with displaying accuracy in his throws, he also appears to be fully recovered from the torn ACL which ended his season last year. On top of this, his leadership and control of the huddle everyone raved about last season seems to have carried over, as tackle Joe Thomas claims Hoyer acts like he’s taken teams to the playoffs multiple times.
In terms of Johnny Football, he’s looked a little less steady. He’s shown flashes at times, but also has thrown a few picks and appeared shaky as well. If this trend continues, the competition could begin to favor Hoyer more than ever.
Despite whatever craziness this would stir with national media, it’s important to note this wouldn’t be a twist ending at all.
If you break it down, it actually makes perfect sense. Essentially, the quarterback with NFL experience, however limited it may be, is performing better than the rookie who’s never actually used a playbook before and is in the early stages of his very first professional training camp. Why would this surprise anyone? It’d actually be more of a shock if Manziel was outperforming Hoyer.
The problem, of course, comes from the pressure to play the record-breaking college superstar over Hoyer. Manziel is the reason national media even cares about Cleveland football right now, and the interest would increase even more if he was starting. So, when word comes out that Manziel is struggling while Hoyer looks sharper, it becomes an unnecessarily big headline on ESPN. And it shouldn’t be.
Hoyer might not be the paparazzi magnet Manziel is, but it’s to be expected for him to have a leg up on the former Texas A&M superstar in these early days of camp. Honestly, I’d expect this to remain the same through the preseason. The pressure to start Manziel will get louder and louder as opening week nears, regardless of how he looks in camp. At the same time, the better QB needs to start for the Browns. Right now, it’s Hoyer.
Try not to be too stunned.