Manziel tiptoes around questions about starting


Johnny Manziel has changed, in multiple ways. Off the field, he has avoided controversy (for the most part) following a 10-week stay in rehab. On the field, he’s starting to look like the guy he was at Texas A&M.

After Thursday night’s performance against Buffalo, which the team has touted via its Twitter page, Manziel tried not to be presumptuous about the potential implications of an improvement nearly as dramatic as last year’s decline.

Asked by reporters if he’s anxious to get a chance to play with the starting offense, Manziel deferred to the head coach. But it’s clear he wants to have a chance to show what he can do with the starting offense, against a starting defense.

“I am just happy to be out there and getting a lot of reps,” Manziel said in comments distributed by the team. “That was a good two quarters off football that I got tonight that I am getting a lot better from. I am going to go back and look at the tape and learn from it. The more reps that I am getting, the better for me right now. Would I like to be in there with the ones? Sure, but that is not my call. If that decision does come, I will be ready to hop in there, but for now, I am making the most of the opportunities I am getting.”

He’s confident he would have thrived against the Bills’ starters on Thursday night.

“I got a chance to go against them last year for a couple drives there, punched it down the field on one of those drives,” Manziel said.

So does he think he still has a chance to be the starter?

“I’m still going out trying to play my best and make an impression,” Manziel said following an outing that included a 96-yard touchdown drive. “That’s what I want to do. I want to have these guys go into the film tomorrow and turn on the tape and say, ‘This guy’s really doing things right and this guys really fighting hard to pick things up and make some plays.’ That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to make an impression and leave a little bit of a lasting memory coming off these games.”

The reporters, who seem to sense what may be coming (especially since starter Josh McCown has a finger injury and despite coach Mike Pettine’s position that McCown is firmly entrenched as the starter), kept at it, asking Manziel if he thinks he’s one drive away from “putting heat” on McCown.

“That’s definitely not my words I’m going to use, just ‘putting heat’ on Josh,” Manziel said. “I think Josh has done everything right since the day he’s been here. He’s obviously a vet and has a very good understanding of this. Mine and Josh’s relationship right now, I’m trying to learn from him, learn from some of the things he does right and learn from some of the mistakes he does make. I think we have a good relationship in that regard. I wouldn’t say putting heat on; I’m just trying to learn from him because there’s a lot still for me to learn.”

It’s pretty clear that Manziel wants to play — why wouldn’t he? And for a 22-year-old kid who was peppered by loaded questions immediately after having a great performance, he did the best he could to say all the right things. He likely did better than other quarterbacks would have done under the same circumstances.

You know, quarterbacks who may have been inclined to declare that they believe they’re the best quarterback in the NFL.

53 responses to “Manziel tiptoes around questions about starting

  1. Maybe Manziel decided that he wants to be an NFL QB. He might have pressed the rewind button and decided to start all over again. It’s a breath of fresh air.

  2. He’s confident he would have thrived against the Bills’ starters on Thursday night.
    Um, you have lost your mind, you were not doing anything against that Bills starting Def…….but I want to let Brown fans know that I would go with Johnny Football over McCown. McCown is awful!! So happy the Bills did not sign this guy, I am much happier with Tyrod and even EJ over him. Good luck this year Brown fans!

  3. I’m really pleased w/Johnny’s progress. Would’ve liked to have seen him get some legit time w/the ones.

  4. Maybe we can tap the breaks a bit on this, give the kid time to continue rebuilding his confidence and learn how to combine the things he does well with techniques that will save him from getting decapitated out there. People are too impatient these days when it comes to young quarterbacks, we need to go back to the expectation of 2-3 years of development being the norm for rookie QBs.

  5. The last part of the article is spot-on. As I was reading the quotes, I was impressed that he kept humble and followed the company line. Everyone loves a second chance/comeback story, and I have to admit I am hoping Johnny does well.

  6. The best thing for Manziel may be to sit right now. He’s trying to change his life and be a better person. Let the dude breathe, work on himself and his game

  7. I hope he does well and becomes a model citizen. He could be a good role model. And Cleveland couLd use the help.

  8. There’s a difference between not sucking as badly as you used to and being ready to start in this league. Manziel is not yet an NFL starting-caliber quarterback. Even HE knows this. I’ll never understand why he gets such disproportionate hype.

  9. Can’t say whether it will stick or not, but pretty impressed with the 180 this kid has pulled. Like almost everyone else, I’d all but written him off. Hoping he keeps it up.

  10. I don’t understand why McCown is the unquestioned guy. I’m not sure in any way if Johnny has turned some proverbial corner but what has McCown done to make anyone believe it makes more sense for him to start?

    McCown is 17-32 as a starter with a 61-59 td to int ratio and the only reason the ratio is close is because of one lightning in a bottle 11 td to 1 int season. With out that it’s a 40-58 ratio.

    Manziel is much younger, probably at least on the same level when it comes to mistake probability, has a much higher ceiling and in an offense with very limited talent gives you pocket moving/rushing options.

    As a Raider fan this feels similar. Schaub playing in the preseason last year and taking reps he didn’t deserve simply because he’s the vet was agonizing.

  11. I don’t think he tip-toed around anything. I heard him say something to the effect, that it would be nice for him to get a chance to see what he can do playing with the 1s. Clearly, he relishes the thought of starting and thinks he did enough last night to warrant the chance.

    I have a different view. I saw nothing that indicates he can play with the big boys on a consistent basis. He still runs and jumps on his throws. He stares down his receivers and displays a weak arm, using all his strength to throw 20 yards to the sidelines.

    Any look at his success must be tempered by the fact that he played against backups. He’s getting undeserved hype, but who’s surprised? Taylor stole the show, Manual won the game, Manziel gets the headlines.

  12. Manziel has all the physical and mental tools necessary to grow into a star. Here’s hoping he continues to pursue humility, discipline, and yes, true greatness.

    – One of his former critics

  13. Not a Browns’ fan but I’m glad to see him matured. Can’t wait to see what he can actually do. Unlike some delusional QB in Washington who thinks he’s the greatest QB in the league.

  14. Improvement is a good thing. Heading the right way, even if slowly, is encouraging. At least it sounds like he understands what he has to do and not do to have a shot at being successful.

  15. Putting up nice numbers against cannon fodder is great, but wait until he goes up against real NFL starters before cheering any turnaround. With McClown ahead of him, that chance will likely come soon.

  16. As one of the dozen or so people who had this kids back the whole time while 99% of you were lynching this kid, I feel vindicated.

    He’s like 22/23 still. Wait and see where he will be in a couple more years, don’t worry, Ill warm up the oven for your crow dinner.

  17. He should be starting. There is no conceivable reason why the Browns, who are at least 2 years from being contenders (and that’s being charitable) should waste their time with a 36 year old sub par career journeyman running their offense.

    Yes, maybe doing that instead of putting Manziel on the field to develop buys you one or two more wins this season. So what? If Manziel sits again this year, then you are right back at square one next training camp- with a young roster, an old quarterback, and no idea if the QB of the future is on your roster or not.

    What’s the point?

  18. I’m a Browns fan and I just don’t see what some of you others are seeing. I see a kid who improvised some last night and got something done with and against the twos. His arm strength is barely adequate and that hasn’t improved. He’s trying and I’ll give him that. I just don’t see a starting NFL QB there. I hope I’m wrong.

  19. Johnny had a very nice 94 yard drive against the Bills third or fourth string. But even Johnny’s qb guru, Jon Gruden questions his arm strength, something needed in CLE in November and December.

    If you watched the 4th quarter two minute drill–you will realize Johnny isnt ready for Prime Time. He ran around wasting time, couldnt hit a pass. Looked terrible against the same 3rd and 4th team defense.

    Give him credit for getting his life together. But if Johnny is starting, baring injury, then CLE is in for another very high draft choice.

  20. billswillnevermove says:
    Aug 21, 2015 8:09 AM

    McCown is awful!! So happy the Bills did not sign this guy, I am much happier with Tyrod and even EJ over him. Good luck this year Brown fans!


    And I think I speak for all Patriots fans here: “We are happy with the Bills sticking with Tyrod and EJ too”!

  21. If Johnny starts for Cleveland I might actually watch some of their games. I am not at all a Browns fans but he is exciting to watch!

  22. Personally I don’t think Johnny has the arm to succeed in the NFL but his answers to the reporters questions were spot on for how you’d like your QB to be.

  23. Manziel stats – 10/18 (55.55%) for 118 yds. and a TD in second half of a preseason game. Browns fans get all excited that maybe Johnny isn’t a complete bust.

    E.J. Manuel stats – 9/14 (64.28%) for 111 yds. and a TD with a throw for 2 point conversion in same half of preseason action. Bills fans say “meh”.

    Oh, and joetoronto/
    widerightyouloseagain says:

    “You can’t say you’re (sic) defense is great and then say it was only the 2nd stringers.

    Great defenses are great because they have depth.”

    Really? I thought it had something to do with putting together a group of guys that surrender only 311 yards a game while leading the league in sacks over the course of a real season. But I guess if you say it is really a reflection of the 3rd and 4th string scrubs that usually play in the second half in the preseason, it must be so. Its not like you any axe to grind over failing to get team or anything joetoronto…

  24. He has made progress but lets see how he does when it isn’t the 2nd half of a preseason game against 3rd string defenses. I am not saying he can’t do it but let’s now annoint him the 2nd coming of Montana until we see him when it is for real.

  25. It is a good thing to see the real person in a young man like JM. The decision to live a sober lifestyle will allow him to enjoy his situation as a player in the NFL. Success may not come on the field but he has already started to win again in life.

  26. We were watching a 3-3 snoozefest until Manziel started making plays.

    I could care less if he wins or loses, I’m absolutely rooting for the guy for one reason only…..HE’S FUN TO WATCH

  27. When Manziel went on that boot leg and fired that pass down the left side on his TD drive, it reminded me SO much of the kid I watched terrorize defenses at A&M.

    I’m glad to see him get his life back in order and it sounds like from his comments he’s matured a ton through this rehab process.

    I sincerely hope he’s successful and I look forward to watching him play. When he was at A&M he was must see tv every week. I hope to see him get back to that level.

  28. He’s still horrible in my view. He’s not consistent, did not show poise and look for open receivers, instead just took off once the ball snaps. Another Christian Ponder, but a little bit more upside, that’s all. Back up qb at best.

  29. He did ok last night. He had a few good plays and few bad throws. He still has his terrible habit of backpedalling and trying to run from pressure in his face, and against starting level NFL defensive players that will usually be disastrous. I do think he deserves a shot with the starters, McCown looked terrible.

  30. He played against a third string defense. Of course he looked ok.

    He doesn’t have a strong arm and he doesn’t have great accuracy. What I saw last night was not a starting caliber NFL QB.

    He’ll get a chance to prove me wrong because incredibly it’s the veteran QB that can’t figure out how to stop throwing the ball to the other team. Come on Josh, are you even thinking before some of those throws?

  31. I can’t believe that people buy this canned speech!
    He may or may not have matured, we really wouldn’t know (unless you actually knew him).

    The only thing we can conclude is that the Browns PR department has schooled him on what to say and what not to say.

    Intelligent people stopped believing that canned speeches from athletes and celebs contained anything of substance a long, long time ago.

  32. chiadam says:
    Aug 21, 2015 9:02 AM
    He was playing against backups that spent zero time game planning to stop him. Let’s all just relax.
    This guy is 100% correct. It’s all well and good to compare todays Johnny to the dumpster fire of last years Johnny. And it’s all well and good that the kid is making progress. But…he had an “ok” 2nd half of football against a vanilla defense, and against players that are special teamers (at best).

    A decent 2nd year QB will be lucky to go 8-8 against a starting NFL defense. And, as we saw last year, Johnny isn’t quite up to “decent”.

  33. He still looks like a boy amongst men in the NFL. I know he’s trying but I don’t think he’ll ever be an elite quarterback in the NFL. He made a few good plays but I still think he doesn’t have the arm strength, accuracy, poise. Athletic skill, and body type to be an NFL star. Big difference between the NCAA in the NFL

  34. Whether Manziel is ready or not is irrelevant. McCown sucks, Manziel was a first round pick, all the other first round QBs from last years draft are starting – you gotta give him a chance and let him grow. He is the future, not McCown. They tried to convince us that McCown could play like he did in Chicago a couple years ago and is the safer choice to win more games this year. He showed us last night he’s not very good. So, why not go with Johnny since you will suck with McCown anyway?

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