Cleveland – Tuesday November 8, the Cleveland Browns made the highly anticipated switch from Brian Hoyer to Johnny Manziel. With Hoyer’s struggles becoming increasingly apparent, the Browns have found themselves searching for answers on the offensive side of the ball. Hoyer has failed to help his team achieve continuity on offense, which has lead to an inordinate amount of abbreviated drives on the season. The Browns’ offense is rated 31st in the NFL in third down conversion percentage at 31.4 percent. As a result, the Browns’ defense has played the fourth most snaps in the NFL this season with 905.
What makes a team like the Seattle Seahawks so good? Their defense is always fresh. With Russell Wilson at the helm, the offense is able to consistently move the sticks in the run game, keeping their vaunted defense on the sideline. By comparison, the Seahawks’ defense has played 161 fewer snaps than the Browns this season. While it might appear that the Browns’ run defense is lacking, many of the challenges along the defensive front stem from sheer fatigue.
Though the offense has been performing at a suboptimal level, Browns’ head coach Mike Pettine was careful to lay the Browns’ offensive woes at the feet of Hoyer when announcing the change at the quarterback position.
“…This decision is really not about Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel, it’s about the Cleveland Browns. We are always going to make decisions that we feel are in the best interest of the team. Brian has done everything that has been asked of him and he has done so as a true professional. It’s never just any one position when a unit is not functioning at the level you’d like. We are trying to get the offense to perform at a higher level. Johnny has worked very hard to earn this opportunity and it will be very important for every member of the offense to elevate their play for us to obtain our desired result.”
Manziel expressed excitement and gratitude toward the coaching staff. He also thanked Hoyer for his leadership.
“I’m very appreciative of the opportunity that Coach Pettine and the coaching staff has given me to be the starter on Sunday. I’ve tried to spend my entire season learning what it takes to become a pro and it’s been great to watch Brian because he knows what it takes. I’ve prepared every week to be ready to help the team however possible and my focus has been on improving every day. … “
Browns’ fans and members of the media are eager to see exactly how Manziel will contribute to the offense, and rightfully so. His ability to extend plays could be precisely what is needed to jumpstart the Browns’ offense.
Below is a list of expectations for the Browns as the take the wrapping paper off of their 2014 first-round draft pick:
Manziel’s ability to improvise will most certainly have an impact on the Browns’ wide receivers who possess great long speed such as Josh Gordon, Andrew Hawkins, Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel. Browns’ offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will make a concerted effort to get Manziel on the perimeter, and locate the aforementioned wide receivers on the scramble drill when plays break down.
Delay of Game
As of last week, there were concerns within the organization regarding Manziel’s ability to get his team in and out of the huddle. In order to assist Manziel in this area, it would behoove the coaches to reduce the verbiage to enable Manziel to communicate plays to his team more quickly.
Greater Rushing Totals
With the injury to Alex Mack, the Browns have seen their rushing totals decrease week after week. Inserting the mobile Manziel into the lineup freezes linebackers, which widens rushing lanes for the running backs. Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West are going to absolutely love playing alongside Manziel. Defenses are going to have to take Manziel’s running ability into account, or else he is going to move the chains with his legs, whether it is off of the read option, or on broken plays.
Mirrored Route Combinations
In an effort to simplify reads for Manziel, look for route combinations to mirror one another on both sides of the field. Mirrored route combinations aids young quarterbacks in quickly locating wide receivers. Eliminating the mechanics of identifying targets at different depths while going through progressions facilitates getting the ball out of the quarterbacks’ hands at an accelerated pace. Half field reads will also accomplish the same result.
There are many positives that come along with Manziel’s running ability, but mobile quarterbacks tend to cause their offensive linemen to commit holding penalties. Every passing play has a launch point for a quarterback and offensive linemen work in concert with the quarterback to alleviate pressure. Opposing defensive linemen are going to have a difficult time locating Manziel due to his unpredictable nature. Ironically, his improvisational skills will prove to be challenging for those given the responsibility of protecting him as well. The longer Manziel holds the football, the more susceptible the Browns’ offensive linemen will be to holding penalties.
Manziel will have the opportunity to help his team squeak into the playoffs, but it is imperative that Browns’ fans quell their expectations of the rookie quarterback. At a point in the year where most teams are expanding their playbook, the Browns will be scaling theirs back to incorporate Manziel. Where Manziel has an advantage is there isn’t much NFL film on him, which means he enters Sunday’s game with few tendencies. Look for the Browns to rely heavily on the run in route to victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
More stories you might like