By all accounts, the starting quarterback competition in Cleveland hasn't materialized. There's no competition yet.
There's a long way to go and no matter how much the team wants to pump up Hoyer (and clearly it's doing so in part to send a message to Manziel), he doesn't have much of a track record of being a good NFL quarterback. Manziel could win the starting job with a good preseason. But it appears he has a long way to go. He hasn't taken any reps with the starters yet. It's looking like a good bet he won't be the starter by Week 1, but that isn't a reason for him to panic.
"I think I’ll play whenever these coaches decide that I’m ready," Manziel said, according to the team's transcript. "I don’t think there’s any rush. For me, it’s whenever Coach (Mike) Pettine, (offensive coordinator) Coach (Kyle) Shanahan decide that. I don’t think they ever want to throw me into a situation that I’m not ready for or something that I can’t handle. I don’t know if they drafted me necessarily thinking that I should come in and start Week One. I think they wanted to see where I’m at and see how I progress, and hopefully, they’re happy with how I’m progressing."
Here's more of Manziel's press conference on Thursday:
It's true that the team is probably better off if Manziel learns and is fully ready by the time he plays. There will be pressure to make a change if Hoyer doesn't produce much early on, and keep in mind that the optimism over Hoyer is based off one good game and one decent game last season before he got hurt.
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Although some Browns sources decided to rip Manziel in a Cleveland Plain Dealer story the day the team reported to camp, publicly the coaches are way more positive. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Pettine said Manziel has "done a nice job" grasping the playbook and he's ahead of where the coaches thought he'd be. Shanahan said the competition was even, although media reports from camp have painted a different picture. The Beacon Journal also said that Shanahan didn't rule out using Manziel in special packages as early as Week 1, but he hasn't even ruled out Manziel starting in Week 1 either.
“I don’t think one’s any further in front than the other,” Shanahan said, according to the Beacon Journal. “I think they’ve both done a good job. As far as these five practices, it’s usually one day one guy’s ahead of the other. The next day, the other guy does a better job. I think it’s been back and forth."
Manziel is smart to take the high road and push the "no rush" angle to him starting by Week 1. It's better to leave talk about starting out of the conversation at least until you've taken some reps with the starters. But the Browns will be fun to watch in the preseason (their debut is Aug. 9 at Detroit), and they'll become infinitely more interesting this regular season when and if Manziel does get the nod.
Right now Manziel is dealing with typical rookie struggles in his first camp, and he offers an honest evaluation of where he stands at this moment.
"I’m a rookie. I don’t have all of this stuff figured out," Manziel said. "I don’t know the ins and outs and every little nook and cranny. Sometimes there’s a little twist on a play, and you can go in and forget to say it in the huddle, and from that, it changes the whole dynamic. Some of those times, some of the plays I’ve ran for the first time and really gone back into it. We run them again and just make sure not to make the same mistakes twice. It’s a process for me."
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