Greg Cosell: ‘On NFL Field, Manziel’s An Average Athlete’

After naming Brian Hoyer the Browns’ starting quarterback – and later suggesting that Johnny Manziel might not play a snap this year – Cleveland head coach Mike Pettine said he may design a special package for the former Heisman winner to get on the field sooner rather than later.


“Well, I’m never a big fan of two quarterbacks playing,” NFL Films guru Greg Cosell said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “And I understand that a lot of people think that the league has moved in that direction as far as specific individual plays. We’ve seen it done before. I don’t think it’s really worked. I don’t think it’s a good idea. But in terms of the starter, I think it’s the right choice.”

Neither Hoyer nor Manziel has looked good this preseason, but just how big of a gap is there between the two?

“Oh, I think in terms of being able to execute in an NFL game, there’s a very large gap,” Cosell said. “And I think that they know that they could not put Johnny Manziel out there now because he really can’t execute their offense.”

Even more ominous is Josh Gordon’s looming suspension. Cleveland’s offense wasn’t very good last year – and that was with the NFL’s leading receiver. Won’t it be difficult for Hoyer to be successful without many weapons at his disposal?

In a word, yes.

“Hoyer, even at his very best, would be a complementary player who needs a lot around him to be successful,” Cosell said. “My guess is they’ll run the ball rather effectively, but they don’t really have any weapons – other than a tight end with Jordan Cameron. We know Gordon will be suspended for some amount of games, so they don’t really have much on the perimeter. So it’s going to be difficult for Brian Hoyer.”

Cosell firmly believes that Manziel will play – and start – at some point this season; it’s just a question of when. But Cosell has no idea what to expect.

“Ultimately, what is he going to be?” Cosell wondered. “And I think that’s a question that has not been asked by a lot of people. There’s just been an assumption all along that at some point he’ll be a great quarterback, but what is he going to be?”

Cosell has been studying quarterback play for the last, oh, quarter of a century. He’s watched Manziel on television, and he’s watched Manziel on film. He’s also come to a conclusion about Manziel that would probably shock a lot of fans.

“On an NFL field, he’s an average athlete,” Cosell said. “I think most people assumed that he’d go out and make his random, arbitrary plays – his wonderful improvisational plays – and that would be his game. It’s hard to be great playing that way.”

Yes, it is – especially when you’re small.

“Colin Kaepernick right now is a very good example of a guy who’s still not refined as a polished (pocket-passing) quarterback,” Cosell said. “But he’s 6-4, 235 pounds. Johnny Manziel is not 6-feet and he’s 200 pounds – and he looks small because he is. So ultimately, what are you hanging your hat on? What can he become in the NFL?

“I’ve done this long enough to never rule out a player and say, ‘Oh, he’s a bust. He can’t make it,’” Cosell continued. “I wouldn’t do that. He’s played two NFL games. I’m just wondering what ultimately (he can) become. I’m not sure.”


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