Okay, we need to give Chris Simms a round of applause. Why? Because he just did something that no analyst has done in the last three weeks:
He discussed the Cleveland Browns for more than 150 words and made absolutely no mention of Johnny Manziel.
Simms, the Bleacher Report analyst and former NFL quarterback, has been making the rounds at camps, visiting with the Cowboys, 49ers, Raiders and Browns, among other teams. He was extremely impressed with the Browns as a whole, particularly new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
“He’s doing good,” Simms said on The MoJo Show. “He really is. They have a team that – their defense, I’ll say this: It looks the part, that’s for sure. We’ll see how they do. Mike Pettine there with the Rex Ryan scheme, I expect it to be good. They got a real good front seven. The secondary’s real good with (Joe) Haden and Justin Gilbert. They got Donte Whitner at safety. They got a lot of players on the defensive side of the ball.”
“The offensive side of the line,” Simms continued, “it’s a good offensive line. They got some running backs. The big thing with them is just the receiver thing with Josh Gordon. We’ll see how (many games) he misses. Yesterday was one of the first times I saw him in person. I knew he was a freak show, but he’s more of a freak show than I thought once I saw him in person. I just did not realize how big he is.”
Indeed, Gordon is 6-3, 225, but seriously, Simms made his way around the entire Browns coaching staff and roster without mentioning Manziel. Not once.
Did we say round of applause? We meant standing ovation.
Okay, sit down. Now he’s going to talk Manziel.
“I do think Johnny is starting to take over down there,” Simms said. “I’ve been saying it all along: He’s going to start. You’re crazy if you don’t think he’s going to start Week 1. The owner drafted him. And you’re talking about a guy – okay, yeah, he’s a rookie. He’s inexperienced. So is Brian Hoyer. Brian Hoyer, I know, has been around the league for a few years, but he’s only played four games. To me, when it comes down to that, then you might as well play Manziel. And you add the fact that Gordon won’t be there, you’re going to have to utilize some of Manziel’s athletic ability to incorporate that into the offense to give them a little more substance within their offense.”
Manziel, of course, has a lot on his plate. He has to learn the playbook and adjust to the speed of the NFL. Based on what Simms saw, though, he seems to be figuring it out.
“He had a phenomenal day at practice (Wednesday) when I was there, so he showed me that he was comfortable,” Simms said. “He was very good within the pocket. He made some great throws on the run. The thing I like about him, he does have huge hands for a smaller guy, so he can throw the ball from any different angle.”
Simms also thinks that Manziel and Shanahan are connecting off the field.
“Kyle liked to have fun when he was 21 years old too, and he certainly understands that side of Johnny Manziel and is not critical of it one bit,” Simms said. “I know he’s told him to tighten his inner circle a little bit so maybe the pictures stop floating around the Internet. But at the end of the day, I think he’s in a great spot with Kyle. Kyle Shanahan proved to us (he can coach a mobile quarterback). He invented an offense around RG3 two years ago. He’s very creative. And I know he’ll come up with ways to make Johnny Football work.”