Sage Rosenfels played 12 seasons in the NFL – from 2001 to 2012 – and was involved in his fair share of quarterback competitions. And he’s here to tell you: If you think preseason games are meaningless, you had better think again.
“I think that all the coaches and the GMs and the owners – everyone sort of looks toward those first couple preseason games – and that first one is big,” Rosenfels said on The MoJo Show. “People talk about (how the) preseason’s not important, but it is –because you really get to see (how people react) when the lights are on and there’s 70-80,000 people in the crowd and the bullets are flying. Believe me, everyone’s playing full speed in the preseason. No one wants to get hurt obviously, but people are going to hit you and all those type of things. I think people are anxious to see who maybe sort of shuts it down a little bit when all that pressure’s on and whose light gets a little bit brighter.”
Johnny Manziel didn’t necessarily wow anyone in Cleveland’s 13-12 loss to Detroit last Saturday, but he certainly didn’t shy away from the moment, either. Manziel threw for 63 yards and rushed six times for 27 yards, including an impressive 16-yard scamper that ended safely with a slide.
“Cleveland is very interesting,” Rosenfels said. “People can talk about Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer all day – I think a lot of people do – but my opinion about it is (Manziel) was very, very lucky to get drafted to that team because of Kyle Shanahan. Kyle worked with RG3 in Washington. People have various opinions on Kyle, and I know it sounds like he and RG3 didn’t have a great relationship, but he’s a younger coach, he’s not set in his ways and he’s very creative. I worked with Kyle for about three years in Houston, and he’s not one of those coaches who says, ‘We meed this type of quarterback.’ Whatever he feels like he can win with, he’ll figure out something good.”
“The Hoyer offense and the Manziel offense will be different,” Rosenfels continued. “Both those two guys have different strengths and different weaknesses, and I think that Kyle is creative enough and smart enough to (design) something really good for Johnny Manziel.”
Rosenfels also thinks Shanahan can keep Manziel healthy – and if Shanahan can keep Manziel healthy, he might just have a pretty good quarterback.
“(Griffin) struggled last year coming off that knee injury, but (he was) Rookie of the Year and (made the Pro Bowl),” Rosenfels said. “I think a lot of that had to do with Kyle’s creativity. NFL guys are mostly under center. They went to the pistol and sort of changed the way a lot of NFL offenses are doing things right now, and I think that he’ll use some of those same things with Johnny Manziel. But Johnny Manziel’s skill set is a little different. He runs different. He’s not a long strider. He’s quicker. I actually like the way he scrambled. He’s so quick, he knows when to get down. RG3 has those long strides. He’s extremely fast from a sprinter’s standpoint, but in those small little tight areas, he got hurt pretty easily. I think it’s because of the long stride versus the quickness of Johnny Manziel.”