OC: Manziel's strength may be weakness

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
5:20
PM ET
Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan met with the media for the first time since training camp began and offered insightful analysis on several elements of the team's offense. A prime topic was the quarterbacks.

[+] EnlargeKyle Shanahan
AP Photo/Mark DuncanOffensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan won't hesitate to sneak in plays designed for Johnny Manziel if he thinks it's to the Browns' benefit.
His statements, which deserve to be read on their merits and are offered here in a quasi-Q and A format, show his thinking into the difficulty in evaluating his players, one of whom is a rookie (Johnny Manziel) and one of whom has four career starts (Brian Hoyer). Shanahan was not ready to offer an opinion on one or the other being ahead, but he did say Hoyer is more adept at getting the play called, reading the defense and going through receiver progressions. That's because of his experience. Manziel, Shanahan said, is a rookie going through significant challenges as he adjusts from a read-option system to a pro-style system.

It's tough to judge much of anything from Shanahan's words, but it's not to judge one reality: To date, Manziel has not taken a snap with the first team.

Among Shanahan's statements ...

On Manziel's adjustment to the NFL game: "They weren't as concept-based and they were a little more spread out (at Texas A&M). It allowed him to do a lot more off-schedule plays. Johnny has continued to progress as a quarterback -- doing some things he didn't do in college and at the same time not losing what he is. He's trying to still make those same plays you guys saw in college and trying to learn when to let a play develop and when to abort the play and get out of the pocket and do what he does best."

On Manziel's ability to make plays by improvising: "I think guys who are in that situation have done that their whole life. ... That can be your biggest strength, but it can also be your biggest weakness. You never want to take that away from him, but you want to continue to develop him as a quarterback because these defenses in this league, especially once you get into the regular season and coaches game-plan for you, if they want to keep you in the pocket, they can."

On the quarterback competition: "It's something that I don't try to evaluate every day. I just try to coach both of them and get better. In my experience, when you've been in a situation like this, it usually plays out. We've been in a week. Hopefully, as these preseason games go, as these practices go, one of them will make the decision easy on us."

On whether he would have a package of plays for Manziel to run in a game if Hoyer is the starter: "I would do it if it looked like the right thing to do."

On if his voice will be the loudest when the decision comes to which quarterback starts: "I hope the quarterbacks' voices are the loudest. I hope they make it easy so when we're walking off the field, it's pretty obvious who should be the guy. I wish it could be made tomorrow, but ... you've got a rookie quarterback and another quarterback who's really only played in three full NFL games. They're both learning offenses. When one guy has a bad practice, I don't try and say, 'Alright, he's back. That other guy is way up.' It's early for both of them. As [little] patience as coaches tend to have, I'm fighting with myself to have more. You know it's going to take time."

Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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