Last year, Brandon Weeden was given the starting job coming the last season after a very mediocre rookie season where he threw 14 TDs to 17 INTs while showing a strong arm but bad decision making. Being the Rob Chudzinski regimes “guy” he was given the start in preseason and boy, did he look good. Through his first two games in preseason he recorded stats of 18 of 25, 229 yds, 3TDs, 0 INTs on 6 series in two games. You had media proclaiming him to be “dominant” and the coaches were so high on him that he was rested for the final preseason game for fear of injury.
Brandon Weeden against the Lions last year in preseason
Then the season started and just like that Brandon Weeden regressed back to his rookie self, the gun slinging, INT machine who took forever to make a decision in the pocket. While really the Browns should never have selected Weeden for a variety of reason (Age, system and lack of experience), he was a classic example of how misleading preseason can be.
On Saturday, after months of speculations since the Browns drafted him with the 22nd pick in this year’s draft Johnny Manziel finally made his preseason debut. He completed 7 of 11 passes for 63 yards in the battle of the Barge against Detroit and looked good when he kept the ball as well with 27 rushing yards. Meanwhile when the incumbent Hoyer was on the pitch he completed 6/14 passes for 92 yds. Despite both stat lines and performances being completely average media outlets were proclaiming Manziel had in an almost “Tebow”- like fashion that Manziel had “closed the gap” or even “overtaken” Hoyer despite the fact that neither really shone both QBs suffered from dropped passes and both didn’t up any sacks while looking effective. Brian Hoyer suffered from Jordan Cameron’s injury as when healthy there is great chemistry between the two.
Johnny Manziel in his first appearance in Browns jersey
When the game started there was the usual atmosphere at a preseason game, quite, reserved, waiting for a big play, which is until Manziel stepped on the pitch and a cacophony of noise erupted with a mix of cheers and boos which isn’t too surprising because they were on the road. The game also drew NFL Network’s highest ever preseason game ratings but all this begs the question with all this hype, what happens when Manziel most likely doesn’t win the job? Are we going to see a split fan base and locker room similar to when Tim Tebow was in New York? Donte Whitner has already come out and said that the locker room is split 50-50 on who should be starter. The local Browns fan base and media wouldn’t really be divided on Manziel as Hoyer is Clevelander and is very popular in the city itself but rather the national media who keep stirring the pot. And before anyone reads anything into Manziel performance remember he was playing against one of the worst secondaries in the league backups. The important thing to remember is that it is just preseason and to take everything with a pinch of salt and to not read into too much. Also NEVER trust Brandon Weeden. EVER.