The Cleveland Browns’ training camp has started and it is one of those things that make us smile.
Not because it is the start of football season, but rather because of all of the over analyzing of everything that happens during each session.
What is even more ludicrous is the daily question and answer period with new coach Mike Pettine, where the media asks him some inane stuff and other questions that he cannot possibly answer as he is coming off the practice field.
This year, because of rookie QB Johnny Manziel, that position is particularly under the microscope, with every throw, and especially every interception is discussed ad nauseam.
First of all, it is practice. It’s called practice for a reason. If the players and the team were in mid-season form, they would start the regular season this weekend. Practice is a time for rookies to try to impress the coaching staff, and it’s also a time for the veterans to pace themselves and perhaps try some new techniques and test their limit.
When the exhibition season starts, that will be analyzed even more. And God forbid if Brian Hoyer plays a poor series or two in the pre-season opener against the Lions. The calls for Manziel will grow loud immediately.
Unless of course, Manziel is terrible, in which case, he will be called a “bust” by fans and media alike.
These games are for the staff and the quarterbacks to find out what plays can be successful and which ones won’t work. And when you think about it, that’s the perfect time for errors to occur. You don’t want poor play and execution in Heinz Field during the opener against the Steelers.
So if Hoyer forces a throw, maybe he’s testing the reaction of a defense. If Manziel misses on some over the middle throws, perhaps it is because he missed a pre-snap read.
Really, training camp is great for the fans to watch, to see their heroes preparing for the long season ahead. It’s also a rite of passage. My father took me to Hiram College in the 60’s to get a close up view of Jim Brown, Paul Warfield, and Gary Collins go through the paces, and today, dads are taking their sons to see Manziel, Joe Haden, and Joe Thomas.
However, it should be taken for what it is in terms of football. It’s practice. It is not a game.
Coaches are examining how players respond to different circumstances and challenges, and they also give veterans some privileges they wouldn’t receive during the regular season and certainly during games.
Pettine has already said he will give Thomas off certain sessions, a nod to his status as one of the game’s premier offensive linemen. We can’t imagine the coaching staff taking Thomas out during games once the contests start for real.
Heck, these days, there isn’t even a lot of hitting doing on. For the most part, it is glorified touch football. Yes, there are days when the practice will go live, but it is the responsibility of the head coach to make sure players stay healthy for the regular season.
Training camp is a cool way to spend a summer day. Just realize, that maybe, just maybe, the players and coaches are making mistakes on purpose and don’t read too much into it.