My picks for NFL QB battles
Hoyer or Manziel? Smith or Vick? The coach gives his take
NFL training camps are all about evaluations as a coach. You have certain inclinations after minicamp and OTAs about which players should start, but practice and game situations reveal a lot about which guys you want lining up for you on Sundays during the season.
The biggest decision, of course, lies at the quarterback position. This season, there are three major QB battles -- in Cleveland, Minnesota and Jacksonville -- in which a rookie could challenge the incumbent and start Week 1. The other potential battle, involving the New York Jets, features a second-year player competing against a veteran.
I'm not at practice, so I can only go on what I'm told by the guys I talk to around the league. However, if I were the coach of these four teams, here's whom I'd start at quarterback Week 1.
Everybody knows about the hoopla surrounding Johnny Football both on and off the field. He's a larger-than-life figure, and you have to deal with a couple of those players as a coach. Your star players are the guys who make your team, and they should get treated differently because they're the ones who help you keep your job as a coach and lead you to the playoffs.
That same rule should apply to Manziel, as long as he produces on the field. A lot of people are concerned that he doesn't know the playbook. The bottom line is that he doesn't need to. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will customize the playbook to Manziel's strengths, such as getting him outside the tackle box with bootlegs, using read-option and simplifying his reads. He'll give Manziel the formation and snap count, but the one thing Manziel must master is where the hot receiver is (in other words: where to go if there is a blitz).
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