Duke Johnson Jr. didn't expect to be named the starting quarterback Tuesday.
Manziel figured Browns coach Mike Pettine would take the entire bye week to weigh the pros and cons of the decision and come back to him next Tuesday when the team returned from its time off. As the morning progressed, Manziel went through his normal routine and was in the film room when Pettine grabbed him to deliver the news.
After his first practice as the team's starter moving forward, Manziel didn't downplay the excitement he'll carry into the bye week and into the Browns' next game, a Monday night showdown with Baltimore on Nov. 30, at FirstEnergy Stadium.
"I wanted to start. I wanted to get the chance to be the guy. That was always my goal," Manziel said. "Now, obviously with Coach Pett coming out and saying it today, it's big news for me. I'm excited, I think as I should be. This is a great opportunity with a great group of guys that are going to go out and fight with me every week. I couldn't be more excited."
Manziel's goals for the next six games are the same as Pettine's: progress and wins.
Manziel led the Browns to a win Week 2 against the Titans, throwing two long touchdown passes to Travis Benjamin and avoiding the kind of mistakes that doomed him as a rookie. Even though the result on the scoreboard was the opposite Sunday against Pittsburgh, a 30-9 loss, Manziel's overall play was noticeably better. He made the majority of his throws within the confines of the pocket and reads set up by John DeFilippo's play calls and finished with his highest completion percentage (73.3) and passing yardage total (372) of his young career.
"It has been a progression," Manziel said. "There have been times throughout the season where protection wise I was like, 'Man, this really makes sense what I didn't understand in the preseason and here is how we handle it.' I didn't have to learn anything like this or know any of these types of protections and schemes. Now, being a second year into it and knowing a little bit more about defenses and fronts, it has been a gradual progression to get to where I am at today."
"It is not even close to where I want to be."
Manziel said he's shaken off the doubt that plagued him near the end of his rookie season, which ended in unceremonious fashion after six quarters as the starter because of a hamstring injury. Since Manziel rejoined the team in April, his confidence has grown. There've been downs to go along with the ups, but the progress has been steady.
The ability to clean up what he didn't do right in the loss at Cincinnati and prove he can make plays within the pocket and within the confines of Cleveland's offense left Pettine impressed, and Manziel considered it a "big improvement."
Now, it's all about repeating that sort of growth against the Ravens, and again Dec. 6 against the Bengals, and again Dec. 13 against the 49ers…
"That is the big thing," Manziel said. "Make sure our position is filling up our grade sheet with pluses and doing the right thing and getting these guys rallied around. I think that is the biggest thing over the course of the season."
Manziel said he would use the bye week to unwind and relax but confessed he'd likely be back in Berea earlier than most of his teammates. Because he's started the past two games, he's already in a rhythm with the first-team offense and has put in plenty of behind-the-scenes work with group.
From that aspect, nothing has changed, and it's a reason why both he and Pettine are comfortable with the position he's in.
"I think these guys know I'm dialed in," Manziel said. "I'm focused on this stuff and I'm ready to try and put us in the best position to win on Sundays."