The world now knows that it’s Johnny Manziel’s first start in Cleveland, but the confident-bordering-on-cocky QB from Texas A&M does not seem all that wide-eyed. I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise considering how big a stage Johnny Manziel has been on already, but it’s still somewhat refreshing after the meek Colt McCoy and the frightened Brandon Weeden debuts.
That dominated the conversation when Manziel spoke to the media on Friday.
On if he has to keep a lid on his excitement:
“There’s a lot of excitement, but at the same time, it’s business. We need to go out and run our offense and have some success. You can’t get too caught up in the buzz and everything else that’s going on. When it comes down to it, it’s football. You need to go out and play and execute and do your job.”
On if he thought about what it’s going to be like running out of the tunnel and taking his first snap:
“I’ve been thinking more about what first play we’re going to have or more scheme stuff than anything else related to my first start or anything like that. That is kind of…as exciting as it is, it’s settled in now and you have to work and you have to get prepared for this week and stay on top of your stuff. All of the other stuff – excitement, running out on the field – that will happen when it happens. For now, I need to get 100-percent ready to make sure I’m good to go out on Sunday.”
Of course Johnny Manziel can only control his part of the game. He also has to stare down his reputation as it relates to the way opponents treat him. The cost of having such a high profile – and a clear willingness to embrace that profile – is that teams will constantly be gunning for you to create their own highlight reel off your name.
On if he’s always had a target on him, even since college:
“I think I welcome it. I think I accept that. I’ve been a guy that has had a lot of hate spewed towards me. Obviously we saw that at (Texas) A&M, but that’s part of it and I just move on from that and do what I need to do.”
On how much the defense will take extra shots on him because it’s his first start and he’s a high-profile rookie:
“I’m sure. We saw a little bit of it through the preseason. There was some stuff going on, but at the same time, for me, I’m in a different place now. It’s not like it was in preseason. I feel like I have a lot better control of everything. I’m under a lot more control than I was then, and I have a lot better control over my emotions. I need to go out and be the leader of this team and regardless of whether I’m a rookie or not, go out and try and have fun and not get caught up in any other bull-crap.”
Manziel’s first start is like a Christmas gift for Browns fans. In a normal season that’s falling down the drain, the Browns could be turning to a backup with no starter potential. They could be turning to Jason Campbell, Thaddeus Lewis or something with the last name Gradkowski. Instead, as Brian Hoyer faltered and as the team fell back in the standings, this year we get to see the showcasing of Johnny Manziel.
Now, he just needs to be exciting to watch because he’s, you know, good.