Johnny Manziel’s highly anticipated first NFL start did not go as planned for anyone involved. In retrospect, it wasn’t the ideal situation for a rookie quarterback to make his debut. The Browns, who at one point this season seemed poised for a legitimate playoff push, were forced into starting their rookie franchise quarterback in week 15. Brian Hoyer had completely self-destructed over the team’s last 5 games and Head Coach Mike Pettine went with the potential-laden Manziel, in hopes he could jump start the Browns playoff hopes.
The truth is that the Browns were dominated in every facet of the game. The Browns play lacked any amount of intensity virtually every down. They were conquered at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The Bengals got whatever they wanted in the run game, while their defense shamed the Browns entire offense. While it is true Johnny Manziel wasn’t the only one who had a poor performance, it still quite disconcerting for Browns fans.
To be fair, he couldn’t have been prepared for the massive smack in the mouth the entire Browns team endured in the first quarter. It seemed as if he was immediately in desperation mode. Manziel didn’t set his feet on his throws and was hesitant to let the ball go. He was inaccurate with the throws that were available and often late to identify opportunities. Manziel finished 10 of 18 for 80 yards with 2 interceptions. He finished with a QBR of 1.0 which ironically is the worst by a rookie making his first start since Brandon Weeden. The Bengals seemed prepared for everything Johnny tried and it was a day both Manziel and his fans cannot wait to forget.
Give Manziel credit though, he stood up in the post-game press conference and took his lumps. He was candid and made no excuses. It was a brutal day all around for Dawg Pound Nation but it is Johnny’s show from here on out. The focus now turns to getting him some in-game experience in the team’s final two games. Manziel struggled to be instinctive in his first start, in turn making him indecisive and easily bottled up. Expect the Browns to work on getting Manziel comfortable with trusting his reads and his arm as they move forward. Keep your head up Browns fans, this is probably the worst it is gonna get.
By: Brad Ward
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