It looks as if Johnny Manziel will be the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns Sunday at Heinz Field, and as Pittsburgh Steelers fan all do a collective fist pump, Manziel certainly brings a different dynamic and skill set to the game which wasn't present if Josh McCown were under center.
In this film room we take a look at Manziel's latest regular season play and show what he does well at quarterback, and what the Steelers may exploit come game time in the big ketchup bottle.
Here is 3rd and 2 play and the Browns tried to give Manziel as many quick options as possible to convert the 1st down, but he takes none of them. Ultimately, he has to rely on great protection from the line and happening to see a receiver sit down in a soft zone at the last second.
Manziel doesn't always trust his reads, and it is rare he gets past his second option on any particular play. Pittsburgh has to pressure Manziel to make him want to force the football into tight windows, or to cause him to scramble out of the pocket and make mistakes.
This play resulted in a touchdown for the Browns, but it shows the power of pressure on a play which he has wide receivers wide open for an easy touchdown. As highlighted in the GIF, you see there are receivers wide open shortly after the snap, but the pressure up the middle flushes Manziel out of the pocket to force him to make a more difficult throw, as well as cutting the field in half in terms of his options.
Also, note that against the Bengals, Manziel rarely tried to throw a pass that traveled over 20 yards. This was his furthest completion of the game. The Steelers have to take away Manziel rolling to his right, where he is most comfortable, and trying to play backyard football. That's when he can hurt you.
You can't talk about Manziel without also talking about his ability to run the football. The Steelers have been known to be gashed in the run game by far less mobile quarterbacks than Manziel, and when Manziel gets in trouble his instinct is to tuck it and run.
This is just a highlight to show when he likes to run. Here he doesn't see any immediate options open but notices no defender in the middle of the field to check him on the run. The Steelers likely will deploy a player like Ryan Shazier or Lawrence Timmons to lurk underneath the routes to find Manziel when he tries something like this, which will be often.
The Steelers had Mike Vick playing the role of Manziel this week in practice, so when it comes to mobile quarterbacks, they should be accustomed to his style when kickoff comes on Sunday.
The Steelers' approach to this game should mirror their approach to Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2. Force the quarterback to go through all of his reads, and put pressure up the middle to collapse the pocket.
Manziel loves to roll to his right and make throws on the run. The Steelers will look to exploit mistakes when he does this, but rookie OLB Bud Dupree will have his work cut out for him in this department. Luckily for the Steelers, Dupree's athleticism and speed will be a great matchup when it comes to protecting the edge.
Beating Manziel isn't complicated. Take away early reads and stop him from making "sandlot" type plays on the run. The Steelers defense is heavily favored in this matchup, but as shown above, Manziel is capable of making plays if a defense breaks down.