With essentially a month to go before training camp, rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel has some hurdles to overcome to earn a right to start over incumbent Brian Hoyer. The Browns have insisted that the first round draft pick will not just be handed the starting job and all signs so far point to Hoyer being under center in September against the Pittsburgh Steelers. So what can Manziel do to change his impending backup status?
Five simple things Johhny Cleveland must do to prove that he won't be Johnny Backup:
1. Win the confidence of his teammates
This is not a quantifiable goal, but in the locker room and on the practice field Johnny must show his teammates that he can handle the job. The confidence the quarterback instills in his team is of incredible importance. No other position has as much responsibility as the one that touches the football on nearly every offensive play. If the team doesn't feel confident in the quarterback who is leading them, they will not feel confident in themselves. This trust is unspoken and coach Mike Pettine will know it when he sees it.
2. Learn the playbook fast
Brian Hoyer is already miles ahead of Manziel on the grasp of a complex NFL playbook. Johnny has a very short amount of time to grasp a much more sophisticated playbook than the simplistic one he saw in college at Texas A&M.
"When camp starts, I'll have a better grasp of the playbook," Manziel said in regard to his current grasp of the system.
3. Be the hardest working player on the team
Being the cornerstone of an offensive scheme is a task that requires the most work, especially for a rookie. This monumental task will require the most work and to become a starter Manziel must work harder than he ever has before. He has shown that he is willing to put in the extra time and is planning on working with quarterback guru George Whitfield in the next month to prove it.
4. Make big plays in preseason games
This is the tangible litmus test of whether he is ready for the NFL or if he needs more time to simmer in the league. No matter how much play time he gets in those preseason games, he has to make his mark and show he can make big plays. Mediocre play will not get him the job.
5. Cut out the distractions
The media circus is never a good thing for a budding quarterback. Just ask Tim Tebow. At this point in Johnny Manziel's young career, his entire focus should be on football unless he is content will living off of his rookie contract for the rest of his life. He needs to live and breathe Cleveland Browns football to make this work and all his celebrity is just less time he is devoting to his craft. Everyone by now has heard of his antics by now and even his teammates have expressed their displeasure of the distractions. Hopefully he will realize what his priorities are but it seems it may be a hard lesson to learn.
"I'm not going to change for anyone," Manziel was quoted as saying, continuing with "I'm going to enjoy my time off."
Hopefully he doesn't enjoy time off too much because he may have plenty of it if he continues with his party lifestyle.
When asked if he would be the starter at the beginning of the season, he said "absolutely."