BEREA — Call him Johnny Clipboard for now.
Browns rookie Johnny Manziel will trade in his football for a clipboard when the regular season opens Sept. 7 in Pittsburgh. Coach Mike Pettine named Brian Hoyer the winner of the quarterback competition and the starter for Week 1.
Manziel and the coaching staff reached the same conclusion: He isn’t ready.
“Obviously I didn’t want this to be the outcome,” Manziel said Wednesday after practice. “But at the same time, I didn’t necessarily feel I was ready, I felt like there were steps I needed to take and I need to take to move forward and get better.”
Manziel blamed no one but himself for finishing second in a battle in which no one seized control.
“It’s obviously disappointing,” he said. “I feel like if I would have come out and played better it would have been a different outcome. I don’t think I played terrible, but I didn’t do anything to jump off the page.”
Manziel was the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy and earned an army of fans with his electrifying style of play at Texas A&M. His life off the field, including hanging out with LeBron James, Drake and Justin Bieber, made him a national celebrity.
National media swarmed Browns headquarters when Manziel was drafted No. 22 and may decide to disperse with No. 2 officially No. 2. He was asked if the attention will lessen.
“I’m the backup quarterback, I shouldn’t be in the spotlight,” he said, pushing his arms downward as if to quiet the home crowd. “So who knows if that’ll actually be the case. But it would be nice. It would be nice. I don’t think it’s going to happen, though.”
Manziel entered training camp behind Hoyer, the veteran incumbent. Pettine declared it an open competition and gave Manziel time with the first-team offense over the last two weeks.
He closed the gap but couldn’t pass Hoyer. Manziel went 14-for-27 for 128 yards, a touchdown and a 77.4 rating in two games. He punctuated his last chance Monday night by flashing his middle finger at the Washington bench.
Pettine said he’d consider everything both quarterbacks had done since the spring. For Manziel, that included a lot of public partying in his free time.
“There’s nothing I would have changed, nothing I would do differently. Not a single thing,” Manziel said. “If I would have come out and made some plays and done better in the last two weeks, it could have been a different outcome.”
Will he do anything different moving forward?
“I’m going to continue to live my life and the offseason is the offseason,” he said. “I’m going to travel places, I’m going to do things and that’s going to have no effect.
“Obviously I need to do it in the proper way, but I’m still going to continue to have fun in my life and continue to live my life and I don’t think any of that really slowed me in this competition.”
Pettine never wanted to start a rookie because of the inherent growing pains. Manziel admittedly struggled with the complexities of coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s system, but Pettine complimented his approach.
“I don’t question his dedication. I don’t,” he said. “He made tremendous strides from an X’s and O’s standpoint from the time he left here after the rookie symposium until the time he came back. I know there’s been a lot of discussion about his activity, but he clearly studied and studied a lot and came back significantly ahead of where he was when he left.”
Pettine broke the news to Manziel and got the anticipated reaction.
“He’s a competitor,” he said. “He wants to be out there, but he knows there are some things he needs to work on and it’s his job to press on and prepare every week as if he’s the starter.”
Pettine said Shanahan won’t install a package of plays for Manziel in the beginning of the season.
“I don’t foresee us now, especially early, being in a two-quarterback system,” Pettine said.
He was asked if he thinks Manziel will play at all this season.
“Give me a crystal ball. I’ll tell you that answer,” Pettine said. “The NFL season is so long. So much can happen.
“Time will only tell. You could foresee a scenario where he doesn’t play this year, and then there are other scenarios that are absolutely possible as well. It’s hard to tell.”
Manziel compared the time he’ll have on the sideline to his redshirt freshman year at Texas A&M.
“It was hard, it was frustrating, but I got a lot better in that year and a half I had to sit, learn and watch,” he said. “Whenever my number is called, whenever it’s my time, I’ll be ready.
“For me to get in, I need to earn it. I need to earn my place in this offense. Nothing should be given to me and I completely understand that. I need to come in here every day, day in and day out and get better and continue to let them know who I am and how I am.”
The decision may be the end of Manziel-mania for the moment, but he wasn’t dismayed and still believes his future is bright.
“If people would have seen me my first year and a half at A&M, they would have said, no way this kid can get to where I’m at today,” he said. “That’s what people don’t understand. First year and a half at A&M I was terrible. I continued to try and get better learning the playbook, got more comfortable with everybody, around the coaches, with the system, and then good things happened for me.
“You don’t have to come in from your first day of your rookie season and play right away. There’s no exact guideline to how this process works with young quarterbacks. I need to continue to do what I need to do to get better as a football player and get smarter and learn more about the game. And really make the most of the situations that I have and control what I control, and I think everything will work out fine for me.”
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