CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The news that Johnny will get the start against the Titans blew up Twitterverse, sent local and national media into a frenzy, and completely changed the dynamic of the game on Sunday. Not to mention excited some fans, and discouraged others, because there's no middle ground with Johnny Manziel. I fall into the first category, somebody who not only wants the Browns to 'see what they've got', rather than trudge through a mediocre season with a career journeyman at quarterback, but also appreciates a player who brings a completely different skill set to the position.
That's not to say I want Johnny out there winging it, improvising at every turn and keeping his teammates, as well as the Titans, off-balance. But it's all about moving the chains, and if Manziel wants to take off for 21 yards, as he did in the fourth quarter against the Jets (before it was called back because of a holding call), have at it. Be careful, protect the football, and put those unique skills to work. Not too often, or we'll be starting the Austin Davis era before you know it, but it would be idiotic not to take advantage of the athleticism Johnny brings to the position.
Will there be mistakes? Of course. That's part of Manziel's game, too. I wouldn't even call them growing pains. It's just part of the package. Manziel has the ability to make game-changing, difference-making plays. He'll also occasionally give one back. There's a soon-to-be first ballot Hall of Famer who used to do that. And Brett Favre was the most exciting quarterback in the game for two decades.
(ALERT: This is when I have to point out that I'm not saying Johnny is the next Brett Favre. Favre was bigger, Favre was better. And Manziel would have to play for 18 more years, throw for 71,481 more yards and 507 more touchdowns before he's in that conversation. But Favre was a dynamic risk-taker, and his occasional mistakes were certainly worth the risk).
Favre's first season as a starter came in 1992, after he'd been traded by the Falcons to the Packers. He threw for 18 touchdowns, but also threw 13 interceptions. His QB rating that year was 85.3. He'd finish his career at 86.0, which doesn't even put him in the Top 18 all-time. And yet, who wouldn't take Favre over Matt Ryan, Jeff Garcia or Daunte Culpepper, to name a few guys with better career QB ratings?
The point is, dynamic play-makers aren't cookie-cutter quarterbacks. Johnny falls into that category, or at least his potential does. Only a string of starts will show us if his 'good', or maybe even 'great', outweighs the bad. It's time for the Browns to find out.
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