Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Johnny Foofball

So here's the guy you should feel sorry for right now: Brian Hoyer.

Who grew up in Cleveland, rooted for the Browns, wound up playing quarterback for them.

Who's probably going to lose his job now because the Browns threw wads of cash at Johnny Manziel as a first-round pick, and so will give Manziel every opportunity to succeed or fail.

Who -- in case anyone is paying attention, and they aren't --  has outplayed or at least played as well as Manziel so far in the preseason.

But Manziel stole the headlines again last night. And this time for all the wrong reasons.

It's not all that hard to defend him for his off-the-field activities, mainly because his off-the-field activities have been scandalous only when viewed through the distorted lens of TMZ America, which brackets even the most mundane of occurrences in vivid exclamation points. But flipping off the Redskins bench is another matter entirely, because it thunders loudly about the kid's basic immaturity and lack of impulse control on the football field, where those things actually count for something.

On the one hand, you love the kid for the sheer ballsiness of his single-digit salute. But in the next eyeblink, you slap your forehead, because it essentially anoints him as an easy mark.

Every NFL defensive lineman who caught Manziel's act now knows he can get inside the kid's head. And with not a lot effort.

What all that tells you is Browns coach Mike Pettine's got some work to do with this one, as if we didn't suspect as much already. And in the meantime, the young man who grew up dreaming of playing for his hometown team essentially becomes a coat-holder for a kid who was not only no Brian Hoyer last night, but not even Connor Shaw.

Who, as the Browns' third-string QB, completed 8-of-9 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown in the 24-23 loss to the Redskins. And brought home a QBR of 155.8.

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