By John McMullen, NFL Editor - Archive - Email
Manziel gives Hoyer his chance
Johnny Manziel Johnny Manziel has left the door ajar for Brian Hoyer and now
the veteran backup is the one in control of his own destiny.
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Pedigree means opportunity in the NFL.

And the undrafted player with four stops in five years who is coming off ACL surgery generally isn't getting a chance to compete against the high-profile rookie with a Heisman Trophy on his resume.

Unless it's in Cleveland.

If you are wondering just how bad Johnny Manziel's first few months as a pro have gone consider this, at least two organizations trying to pump up their own young quarterbacks coined the term "anti-Manziel" to describe them.

Sources close to both the Eagles and Vikings used it to trumpet Nick Foles' understated leadership style, as well as Teddy Bridgewater's willingness to work.

The Browns, meanwhile, have been left to look like impotent stewards ignoring common sense as their own young QB jetted off to Hollywood, Sin City or Austin every time he had a free moment during offseason activities.

The straw that broke the camel's back seemed to be the picture showing Manziel with a rolled-up bill in a nightclub bathroom.

"I've talked about that with coach (Mike) Pettine; I've talked about it with (general manger) Ray Farmer and the people that I need to talk about that with," Manziel said about the picture and all it entails. "Moving forward, they're good with everything and I've told them everything I need to."

As he's prone to do, however, Manziel couldn't help himself and defended his behavior.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with me going out and having a nightlife and having a social life," he said. "I am 21 years old, and I do like going out. It was the offseason. It's free time for us, and if I want to go out and hang out with my friends or go to nightclubs or do things like that, then I think that's within my rights to be doing that. I think there are other guys throughout the league that are doing that. I'm not trying to compare myself to anybody else, but I think that's within my rights to be doing that."

It certainly is within his rights but it's also within the Browns' rights to have a problem with Manziel's behavior and when training camp started on Saturday of last week, Cleveland finally dropped the pretense and stopped enabling, coming clean starting with the guy who signs the checks.

"I don't want to wear this subject out," Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam said. "Johnny said it himself. He made some mistakes. We expect better from him. I'm sure he'll perform now. We're anxious to see what he can do on the field, which is what really counts."

That is what really counts but Haslam basically admitted he's not sure how the defiant Manziel will act from this point forward. When pressed if the former Texas A&M star learned his lesson and would start taking his job a little more seriously, all Haslam could muster was "We'll see."

"I'm 21 years old and age is not an excuse, but I need to mature and I have done some immature things but moving forward I'm going to try and mature and get better and handle myself better as a professional," Manziel countered.

Just about any businessman knows you get only one opportunity to roll out a new product and Cleveland now has to pump the brakes on breaking the seal on Manziel because the Lone Star State native simply hasn't done what he has needed to in order to hit the ground running as an NFL starting QB.

His behavior has also given Cleveland native and journeyman backup Brian Hoyer all he could possibly ask for -- that opportunity.

Remember Tom Brady was no heir apparent to Drew Bledsoe as the No. 199 overall pick in the 2000 draft. He got his chance due to a Bledsoe injury and played so well, the Patriots simply couldn't remove him from the lineup.

A similar situation developed in Philadelphia last year. Foles was no Chip Kelly guy but when pressed into action after Michael Vick's trademarked injury and consistency issues, Foles grabbled the bull by the horns and threw for 27 touchdowns versus two interceptions. All of a sudden, he's a Kelly guy now.

Comparing Hoyer to Brady or even Foles may be folly. After all in today's NFL any time a franchise drafts a quarterback in the first round that organization believes that player will be its starting signal caller and the face of the franchise sooner rather than later.

And that's still the plan in Cleveland but Manziel has left the door ajar for Hoyer and now the veteran backup is the one in control of his own destiny.

"The opportunity is there for me," Hoyer said. "(Being the starter is) my goal, and that's so far in advance that I can't even think about it. I believe that I'm capable of being the starter at quarterback for this team, and that's what I'm working toward every day."

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