When the Redskins drafted Robert Griffin III in 2012, there wasn’t much pretense about making him fight his way into the starting quarterback job.
Griffin took over from his arrival in Washington and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan put together a scheme that Griffin ran well enough to win a division title. Shanahan is now in Cleveland after everything went south in a hurry for the Redskins last year and the Browns have opted for a different track with Johnny Manziel. They’ve made Brian Hoyer the No. 1 quarterback in spring practices and called Hoyer the better quarterback “by a substantial margin,” but Shanahan is still getting a familiar feeling when he watches Manziel play.
“Johnny and Robert are very similar,” Shanahan said, via USA Today. “They’re both talented guys who can make plays with their legs. But there comes a time in the NFL when they’re going to keep you in the pocket, and you’re going to have to have that ability to make the throws with your arm and mind. And Johnny, just like Robert, has that arm talent and intelligence to do that.”
Manziel moved from the third team to the second team in practice this week and the team hasn’t come close to ruling out Manziel starting in Week One despite their coordinated effort to start the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from the bottom. Shanahan didn’t veer away from that, saying whoever moves the team best will start, but he did say that Manziel has some “special magic, swagger” that you need to get the job done in the NFL and that he’s been “very impressed” by Manziel’s work ethic.
Over the next three months, Manziel will try to use those things to cut into the aforementioned substantial margin between him and Hoyer. Whether or not he does it by Week One, Shanahan wasn’t describing a player who will be spending a lot of time on the bench.