Let me get this out of the way first: I didn't believe the "Johnny Cleveland" hype coming out of probably every mock draft created by NFL writers across the web. Almost every single one had the Browns getting Manziel with #4 overall. Then the draft happened, which strangely reminded me of the "Draft Day" movie to the point where I half-expected Kevin Costner to come up on stage and shake Manziel's hand. I realized the next day that I didn't have a problem with the Browns drafting Johnny Manziel. I only had a problem with them drafting him at #4, so I was ecstatic to see him in a Browns uniform at the press conference that followed the draft.
I was just reading a FanPost about the similarities between Manziel and Colt McCoy. While the writer made some good points, I think the similarities end with the fact that they were both quarterbacks who played in Texas during college. Yes, McCoy was mishandled by the Browns' coaching staff, but the Browns just were not ready to become an 8-8 team when McCoy was handed the reins of the position. Now, though, things are different. With Mike Pettine, I think that the Browns are going to focus more on defense given his past, but Kyle Shanahan and Dowell Loggains will be able to develop Manziel so he becomes the quarterback Cleveland needs. I know that it may have been a controversy today when it was implied that Manziel would be third-string, but he needs to start there. He will get playing time in the preseason, but, barring any freak injuries, Brian Hoyer will start Week One and he deserves it. While Manziel may prove himself to be the quarterback of Cleveland's future, he needs to sit at least the first half season in order to learn how to play against an NFL defense. If Hoyer has the Browns at 3-3 or better by the end of Week Seven, he should keep starting because something is working (for once). I would start Manziel Week Eight only if the team was 1-5 or 0-6.
Just look at the schedule: It's pretty tough. Starting the season in Pittsburgh is hard enough, but going into an early bye week after having played the Saints and Ravens as well is a nightmare. Honestly, the only easy wins I see for the Browns are against the Titans in Week Five, the Jaguars in Week Seven, the Raiders in Week Eight, the Buccaneers in Week Nine, the Texans in Week Eleven, and the Bills in Week 13. The way the schedule works, even though it is very tough for the Browns, the team can afford to have a smooth transition period after the Bye Week if things are going horribly (0-3 would be fine if Hoyer is playing well, but if not, it may be Johnny time). The final four weeks bring the Colts and Bengals to Cleveland but force the Browns to travel to Carolina and Baltimore to finish out the season (for once not against the Steelers). If they stick with Hoyer the whole season and everything meshes, I can see the Browns finishing at 8-8. Will that be enough to make the playoffs? Probably not. Does it give Manziel the bench time he needs to learn how to play in the NFL while keeping the Browns competitive? Absolutely. The Browns still have to figure out their future, and whether this will be a transitional season or a new resurgence is up to the coaching staff and how they decide to play their quarterbacks. Is 8-8 a realistic hope for the Browns? I think it is, but then again it is a "hope." The Browns could conceivably go 5-11 and be looking at the 2015 Draft Class lustily. While the Browns have the Bills' first rounder next year, they shouldn't end up having two picks in the Top Ten if they can avoid it. The Browns are looking good going into the tail end of the offseason, but only time will tell if the Browns can finally make "The Promised Land."