Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said Thursday he isn't trying to change quarterback Johnny Manziel's style ahead of his starting debut Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, according to ESPN.com.
Manziel became known for his scrambling and his improvisational style while playing in college at Texas A&M, which led to explosive plays but also brought the threat of mistakes.
Shanahan said he realizes Manziel's style will likely lead to some stressful moments but that he's still encouraging the rookie to play like he always has.
"I want him to be himself," Shanahan said, according to ESPN.com. "It’s gotten him a lot of success in the the past. I definitely don’t want to be the one to take that away.
"When that ball is snapped, I don’t want him thinking about coaching points. I don’t want him thinking about how the play is supposed to be. I want him reacting. Hopefully when someone’s open, he reacts and lets it rip."
Shanahan has recent experience with dual-threat quarterbacks, having served as the offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins and quarterback Robert Griffin III the last two seasons. The coordinator adapted his offense to include elements that took advantage of Griffin's running ability in his rookie year, leading to a successful season that saw Griffin win Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Manziel was named the Browns' starter this week after veteran Brian Hoyer started the first 13 games of the season. Hoyer led the team to a 6-3 start but threw eight interceptions and just one touchdown pass over the last four games, with Cleveland going 1-3 in that stretch.
While Hoyer's starting status remained unchanged until this week, Manziel replaced Hoyer in the fourth quarter of a Week 13 loss to the Bills. He led the Browns on an 80-yard touchdown drive on his first series, capped by a 10-yard Manziel touchdown run.
The rookie has completed five of nine pass attempts this season for 63 yards.
The Browns are 7-6 and in last place in the AFC North but still in playoff contention. Their opponent Sunday, the Bengals, are 8-4-1 and in first place.
- Ben Estes