AKRON, Ohio -- The quarterback play at the Cleveland Browns' intrasquad scrimmage might not determine much, but it sure highlighted the difference in the way the team's two signal-callers play.
Want a dropback, stand-in-the-pocket-and-make-a-throw guy? Here’s Brian Hoyer.
Want a scatback at quarterback who can make throws, run and run around, and make throws? Here’s Johnny Manziel.
Want someone who will light up the field with big plays and a high completion percentage? Well, the wait continues.
Hoyer had more opportunities and more throws and more yards and more completions, but the chatter after play ended was more about Manziel. That could be the nature of things when a much-discussed guy becomes a first-round draft pick, but Manziel looked better in the scrimmage than he has at any time in practice. That’s not a high bar, but it’s still true.
At the same time, the things he did well are the things that offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan expressed concerns about during the week when he said Manziel’s greatest strength also could be his greatest weakness. That’s moving around, because for every big play a runner can make, there’s another with a defender waiting to -- as Ron Jaworski said -- “break his facemask.”
The bigger picture may be that the Browns' defense scored two touchdowns to none for the offense, and that some goal-line plays looked like a Keystone Kops skit. Too, once Jordan Cameron went out as a precaution to protect a shoulder he got banged up, the offense was without Josh Gordon (in New York to continue his appeal) and Cameron. On the one hand, it’s early in camp, but on another, the way things went is reflective of new players learning yet another new system while the other competitive teams in the AFC refine theirs.
One of Hoyer’s best throws came early, as he found Miles Austin for 19 yards on third-and-14 on the first drive, which fizzled soon after. Later during a red zone drill, Hoyer had Austin wide open on a short crossing pattern, but the ball was batted at the line by Jacobbi McDaniel and intercepted by Barkevious Mingo, who rambled on a fullback-like run for a good return.
“I would have tackled him,” Hoyer said.
“I would have lowered my shoulder,” Mingo said.
Both laughed, though Hoyer wasn’t laughing about the throw.
“You can’t throw it through them,” he said.
Manziel’s best completion came when coach Mike Pettine gave him a chance on fourth-and-5 and he found Willie Snead for 14 yards. His best throw was a corner-of-the-end-zone toss to Gary Barnidge, who made the catch but was ruled out of bounds.
Manziel spoke insightfully when it was over, and he probably was the talk of more people who watched than Hoyer. Manziel did take a step forward, and he's headed toward getting reps with the starters, but he still has to show that he can run around successfully and consistently in a full-speed game. And he has to show he can handle a dropback passing attack that asks a lot of him pre-snap without simply taking off every time his first read is not there.
Manziel said he’s learning.
Hoyer said he has to get better.
Both were right on the money.