Manziel can succeed as a rookie


Brian Hoyer started Saturday night's game in Detroit for the Cleveland Browns, but Johnny Manziel made his long-awaited professional debut at the 7:32 mark of the second quarter with the Browns leading 6-3. Pass-catchers Jordan Cameron and Nate Burleson were out of the lineup, but Josh Gordon did play, as did the rest of Cleveland's top offensive unit.

It's a very small sample, but there were some things that I liked (and some things that I didn't like) about what Manziel did in his first game against NFL competition. More importantly, there are some facets to this Browns team that have set Manziel up for success as a rookie whenever it is that he takes over as the starting QB.

Cleveland's base offense

With Hoyer in the game, we saw a steady diet of the pistol, play-action, rollouts and Kyle Shanahan's zone running scheme, led by Ben Tate and a few touches from Terrance West. This is clearly what the Browns want to do on offense.

Hoyer -- an underrated athlete in his own right -- executed it all quite well for the most part. Hoyer threw on time with very good anticipation and timing. He threw high at times, especially on deeper throws, but also wasn't helped much by his cast of receivers, outside of Gordon.

Miles Austin dropped what should have been a big gain to put the Browns close to the goal line on Cleveland's third drive. After converting a fourth down on that drive, Cleveland converted its second field goal of the night, although the Browns were extremely fortunate that MarQueis Gray's drop wasn't ruled a fumble and a Lions recovery.

Manziel's performance

When Manziel took over behind center, the Browns went three-and-out on their first series. In the pistol for all three plays and behind the first-team offensive line, Manziel abruptly completed his first pass as a professional to Anthony Armstrong, getting the ball quickly out of his hand to the right man and on time. But on back-to-back zone read plays, the latter of which Manziel kept, the Lions defended the plays very well, and stuffed the rookie's first drive as a pro.

After a one-play kneel down drive to end the half, Manziel's third drive started the second half at the Lions' 49-yard line with the game tied. It was a six-play drive that ended in a field goal, with three notable plays. The first was a run by Manziel on first down on which he might have been too quick to take off, which resulted in a 3-yard gain. The next was another run on a first down that was a straight quarterback keeper; he took what was given, and wisely got out of bounds after an 8-yard gain.

The final notable play of the drive was a third-and-5. Manziel hesitated on his first read that would have been an easy first down, and instead dumped the ball to Dion Lewis once he was under pressure, resulting in a mere 3-yard gain.

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