CBS NFL play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle will be calling the Browns/Steelers game in Pittsburgh this Sunday, which means he’ll be spending a fair amount of time talking about Johnny Manziel – even though Brian Hoyer is the starter.
“He seems to always be a topic,” Eagle said of Manziel on The Morning Show. “As Tiki knows, when we set up these meetings to meet with the players (and) the coaches, we had to have our own little pre-production (meeting) to determine how we’re going to attack it. And I can tell you definitively the only time that we’ve ever met with a backup quarterback was the Tim Tebow/New York Jets debacle. It was uncomfortable, truly. Mark Sanchez would come in, you’d do your meeting, he’d walk out and then they’d cross in the hallway and Tim would come in (and we’d ask him about being a backup).”
“Even this week with Manziel, I’m interested to see what the reaction is, and I’m obviously very curious to see if he has an actual, determined role in this offense.”
One must wonder if Browns coach Mike Pettine even knows the answer to that. Pettine named Hoyer the starter, then said Manziel might sit the entire year and then said Cleveland might design a special package for him.
While starting Hoyer, who went 3-0 last year, is the safe play, make no mistake: If the Browns don’t win with him, fans will demand to see Manziel.
“I don’t know if (Pettine is) feeling pressure (to start Manziel) Week 1, (but) I think the pressure will build based on results,” Eagle said. “You know as well as anybody, if you win, it changes everything within the confines of your facility – from the secretary to the marketing guys to the interns. Everybody just changes their disposition. Football is set up unlike any other sport. That one win can carry you for a week.”
“But with that said, the losses really hurt and affect everybody inside that facility,” Eagle continued. “So if the Browns get off to a slow start, we know that the pressure’s going to build; the drama’s going to go up a notch. And with that said, Manziel’s name is going to keep popping up in conversation.”
In truth, Manziel had a few nice plays in the preseason, most of them involving his legs or throwing on the run. In other words, the exact type of plays that brought him fame at Texas A&M.
It remains to be seen whether that style can translate to the NFL. It also remains to be seen whether Manziel’s teammates will respect him should he become the starter.
“At quarterback, (when you go into that huddle), there has to be a respect level – a trust level that . . . I’m not sure normal people can understand,” Eagle said. “I don’t know if Johnny Manziel can get that as quickly as some assume can happen in the NFL. That takes time. And that takes (into account) not just what happens on the field, but (also what happens) off the field. (You have to) trust that this guy can lead your team. That’s going to be something that we look for down the line (to see) if he can really develop that dynamic. Right now, I think Hoyer’s got it more than Manziel in that locker room.”