Hoge calls Johnny Manziel 'a juvenile punk'

Merril Hoge blasted Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel on Wednesday.

In every possible way.

Hoge, a former Pittsburgh Steelers running back appearing on Pittsburgh radio station WDVE, said Manziel looked lost in the preseason and "has no business being on the field" in the Browns' season opener in Pittsburgh.

Hoge, who is also an NFL analyst for ESPN, added Manziel has no quality that translates to being a first-round draft pick.

He even referred to Manziel as a "juvenile punk," as evidenced by his text to Browns quarterback coach Dowell Loggains on draft night that he wanted to join the Browns and "wreck this league," though the actual language was more profane.

"That didn't just burn players; it infuriates coaches," Hoge said. "It told you, too, that he's a juvenile punk. He was like that, and he's still like that."

Browns coach Mike Pettine was very clear in saying Brian Hoyer will have the team's support as the starter, and won't have a quick hook. Hoge thinks that helps the Browns, because he does not believe Manziel is ready.

Manziel shrugged when asked about Hoge and pointed out many people support him and some do not.

"Stuff pops up on my phone and I happened to see something," Manziel said of Hoge's latest over-the-top rant. "He's been in the opposite corner of me for a while now so all I can really do is go out and try to prove him wrong. He's entitled to every bit of his opinion."

Pettine said he did not want to get in the habit of responding to every criticism.

"I just know," Pettine said, "that in the age that we're in of sensationalism a lot of times people that want to be heard have to make bold statements in order to bring attention to themselves. I think that's something that's a regular occurrence in this league."

Hoge pretty much lit up the Browns' rookie, saying he shows no understanding of concepts of play structure or the structure of an offense. He said he watched all of Manziel's preseason runs, and on every one "he could have thrown the football had he understood where he was supposed to go in the structure of the play."

He also criticized Manziel's arm, saying it's not strong and that against the Bears he could not throw a deep corner.

Hoge even implied criticism of owner Jimmy Haslam, saying the Rooney family would never interfere with anything in Pittsburgh, but that with some teams an owner expresses his positive opinion because he watched a player on "SportsCenter."

"You trump coaching," Hoge said. "You trump the evaluations of guys who have been doing it for years. Then you force them (the coaches) in a position that is just brutal. That coaching staff, I feel bad for them. They've got to deal with this."

The Browns obviously saw something different. They have entrusted the backup job to Manziel, which means he is one play away from being on the field.

"If you're the Steelers, you want him on the field," Hoge said. "You really do. Hoyer, listen, he didn't shine and he's nothing special, but he's a lot more dangerous than Johnny Manziel."

Quipped Pettine of Hoge: "Where'd he play?"