Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said publicly that he’s expecting to see Johnny Manziel as well as Brian Hoyer at quarterback for the Browns on Sunday.
ESPN analyst Merril Hoge maintains Tomlin and the Steelers ought to be hoping for as much Johnny Football as possible.
“If (the Browns) put him on the field quite honestly it’s jeopardizing their chances to win,” Hoge said today on The DVE Morning Show.
Turns out Hoge was just getting warmed up.
Consider more Hoge on Manziel:
“He really had no business being drafted in the first round. There’s noting that he does that transitions to the National Football League.”
And, “I call it playing dumb. He either doesn’t know or he can’t trust his arm. He doesn’t understand concepts. He doesn’t understand the structure of an offense. Anything that you do defensively, especially with a lot of movement, he has no idea, absolutely none whatsoever.”
And, “Every run that he had in preseason he could have thrown the football had he understood where the ball was supposed to go in the structure of the play, every, single one.”
And last but certainly not least, “This will be the saddest, quickest ending we have seen in quite some time. It’ll be like a Tim Tebow.”
Seeing Tebow didn’t quite work out the way the Steelers intended it to back in January of 2012.
But that aside, they’re probably licking their chops in anticipation of getting a chance at Manziel, if for no other reason than defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s 17-2 record against rookie QBs since 2004.
Chances are, however, any role Manziel plays on Sunday will be of the cameo variety.
The Browns likely haven’t been as critical as Hoge in their evaluation of Manziel. But nor are the Browns committed to starting Johnny Football just yet.
There’s probably a reason for that.
Which means the guy the Steelers are going to have to beat will be Brian Hoyer.
And that all the Johnny Football hype/speculation/hyperbole is for the most part elevator music.
Tomlin appeared to understand as much based on how emphatically he professed his knowledge of and respect for Hoyer, who had a couple of cameo weeks with the Steelers in 2012.
“What you don’t see on tape probably is what is most impressive about him,” Tomlin assessed on Tuesday. “He is a consummate professional. He is an energy bringer. He is really intelligent. He is really football smart. He has great ideas. He understands how to fit his skill set into system football. He is not going to lose games above the neck.
“This guy is going to show up highly prepared. He is going to play to his strengths and attack our perceived weaknesses.”
It’s standard practice for Tomlin to heap such praise on an upcoming opponent.
Along those lines, he also insisted the Steelers have “a great deal of respect for Johnny Manziel and his talents and what he did to get to this point in his career.”
But Tomlin’s response to a follow-up question about Hoyer seemingly oozed sincerity.
“He’s a football junkie,” Tomlin said. “It’s his job and his hobby, he loves it.
“We’re fans of Hoyer because we know him firsthand and have seen him work on a day-to-day basis.”
The Steelers will see Hoyer at work again on Sunday.
Manziel will provide the sideshow element to the 2014 opener and not much else.