Today, it's time to consider the guy who will begin training camp as the starter. Here are five things Brian Hoyer has to do to win the job:
Play like a veteran: It's the great advantage Hoyer has in this competition. He's been there, been around, played in different systems and seen a lot of defenses. While Manziel will have to process much of what he's seeing for the first time -- and perhaps do it on the fly -- Hoyer will be seeing things he's seen before. Too, his veteran presence and demeanor could have a huge effect with the team in terms of building confidence and belief. Teams that do not have belief in their leader will struggle, and Hoyer has done much already to garner his teammates' support. Continuing that will only help him.
Channel his inner Brady. Hoyer learned from the best when he was with Tom Brady in New England. He played behind him, studied with him and prepared with him. Nobody in the league arrives for a game better prepared than Brady. Hoyer has tried to adopt many of Brady's approaches, with preparation his foundation. It keeps him from being nervous, gives him confidence -- about where to throw the ball and when. Hoyer and Brady still talk frequently, and whatever Hoyer brings from his time with Brady can only help him.
Stay within himself. The only thing that derailed Hoyer from reaching his true potential a year ago was a knee injury. He now has his second chance, with the reality that a very public and well-known first-round draft pick is breathing down his neck. The tendency might be to press, to try too hard, to push too hard. That can lead to injury and/or mistakes. Hoyer is fine as himself. He doesn't have to try to be more than he is.
Take care of the football. The same thing applies to Manziel. Taking care of the ball has to be the top priority. Even in the win over Minnesota last season, Hoyer threw three interceptions. Forcing the ball would fall under the category of trying too hard. Things are set up to give Hoyer every advantage. He enters as the starter, he'll get more reps and he'll have every chance to win the job -- all while Manziel has to prove he knows the playbook and knows the offense and the defenses he'll face. Pressing would lead to mistakes, and mistakes could lead to losing the spot Hoyer so desires.
Don't listen to the Manziel hype. Because if Hoyer does listen too much it could be paralyzing. Mike Pettine knows he'll be asked about Manziel on a daily basis, no doubt far more than he'll be asked about Hoyer. The national media will descend, to find out about Manziel. The stories will be about Manziel, the video about Manziel, the focus on Manziel -- who might just be the backup while all this takes place. If Hoyer pays attention to the constant and unending noise about the guy trying to take his job, he'll be not only taking attention off the job at hand, he'll run the risk of potentially tying himself up in the nonsense. Hoyer has to just be himself, listen to his teammates and coaches and nobody else.