Johnny Manziel’s career in the NFL started today… but only after Brian Hoyer was finished. The Cleveland Browns only put up six points in the first half of their pre-season game against the Lions, but that was good enough for a tie heading into the locker room.
The Browns moved the ball pretty well. Brian Hoyer was the first to get the call at quarterback for the Browns. He ended his night shortly into the second quarter completing six passes for 92 yards on 14 attempts. Hoyer struggled a bit with accuracy on some of his longer balls, but the Lions didn’t make him pay for his overthrowing ways. It was just an alright performance by Hoyer as everyone was really waiting for their first look at rookie Johnny Manziel.
When the rookie hit the field for the first time, the stadium came alive with anticipation. Johnny Manziel was streaking upward on the depth chart according to many who have been closely watching training camp. Yes, Brian Hoyer’s name is still a fixture in the number one slot, but it is the first real quarterback competition in Cleveland that I can remember. How did Johnny Manziel fare in his first chance?
Well, on third and one, Johnny Manziel ran head first into two defenders on a pistol option run. In fairness, Johnny completed his first pass in rhythm for six yards to Anthony Armstrong. For Armstrong it might be the moment he became an answer for a Johnny Manziel question on Jeopardy! For Manziel it was a very small amount of first-half action. Manziel wouldn’t get back under center for the Browns until there was under 20 seconds to go in the first half. With a single kneel, the Browns ended the first half.
The Browns defense looked very good in spurts. Barkevious Mingo showed up well. Donte Whitner got one of his signature “Hitner” hits in with a vicious shoulder. Desmond Bryant and Armonty Bryant were causing havoc, although not at the same time. Still, the Browns were a bit of “bend-don’t-break” for much of the first half. Even after Matthew Stafford gave way to Dan Orlovsky, the Browns weren’t exactly finishing as a defense. In the end, they only gave up a pair of field goals.
We’ll have much more on this game later, but that’s your halftime report.
Meanwhile, it’s tough to maintain perspective on Johnny Manziel. He’s already such a bigtime national figure.