Monday, December 15, 2014

Johnny On The Spot

And now we know why Cleveland stuck with the flailing Brian Hoyer for so long, even when it was obvious he'd lost his early season mojo: He gave the team a better chance to win. This is not a banner wave for Hoyer, who appears to have topped out in lesser-Detmer-brother territory. His confidence is shot, his accuracy isn't there, and he can't buy time in the pocket. And he still gives Cleveland a better chance to win than Johnny Football.

Simply put, Johnny Manziel does not appear ready for prime time. Cincinnati ate him alive this week; if he'd been in from the get-go against last week's opponent, Indianapolis, he would have been folded up into origami. His decisions appear bad. His decision making appears slow. His throws are high and don't have any particular zip on them. And the rest of Cleveland's offense simply isn't good enough to make up for that.

Yes, there's something to be said for putting the rookie in to get his lumps so he gets used to the game at NFL speed. But there's also something to be said for not throwing someone who's utterly unready out there to get pureed, just to appease the howling nimrods of the sports commentariat. Yes, it can help Manziel get up to speed, but if he's that lost out there, there's also the chance that he's just going to get beaten up, beaten down, and overwhelmed. That he won't learn a damn thing because he'll be too busy picking his teeth out of the turf after another failed scramble. That the punishment is going to be all that Manziel takes away from this, and whatever promise he had gets buried by sack after hit after sack. 

So maybe Cleveland coach Mike Pettine knew what he was doing, resisting the urge to throw Manziel out there until his hand got forced by market forces. And maybe, just maybe, this will be good for Manziel's development, and he will emerge from this the way Troy Aikman shook off his 1-15 rookie year. Maybe Luke Kuechly won't be picking slivers of Manziel out of his teeth next week, and maybe the Ravens won't pulp him the week after.

And maybe we just took the first step down the road to another Ryan Leaf.

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