It turns out that Johnny Manziel is just like any other rookie quarterback who has entered the NFL in the recent future and is not named Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck.
That is to say there is a learning curve and struggles early for most QBs in the NFL coming right out of college.
However, coach Mike Pettine gave the right answer after the game when asked who would be his starter at the position next week at Carolina when he gave Manziel’s name as the answer.
After all, there can’t be another first start for the former Heisman Trophy winner. It should be only up hill from here if he has the talent to be successful in the National Football League.
Still, even in his dismal performance, and being 10 of 18 for 80 yards with two interceptions in a 30-0 defeat is indeed dismal, there are several people who let the rookie down. And in saying that, we realize both picks were plays that worked in college for Johnny Football, but don’t work for John Professional.
Kyle Shanahan. We wanted to see Manziel run the offense that worked for Cleveland the first eight weeks of the season, meaning the attack Brian Hoyer ran, but with a quarterback with a stronger arm and more mobility.
Instead we got some elements of the read-option, an offense that really hasn’t work since Robert Griffin III’s rookie season.
On the Browns’ first possession, they faced a third and 2, and it looked like the play call was for Manziel to fake a throw and then run up the middle. He was stopped short, and after the Bengals ate up seven minutes on their initial possession, they got the ball back after three plays.
Why not have Manziel rollout with the option of a short, safe throw?
Then, there was no attempt by Shanahan to establish the running game which was so effective against Cincinnati the first time the two teams met either.
After that initial series, eight of the next 11 plays run by Cleveland were passing plays. So much for easing your rookie signal caller in.
It looks like the offensive coordinator got caught looking at Texas A & M game films from the last two seasons instead of what the Browns did well in their first 13 contests.
Receivers. It wasn’t the finest performance by the Cleveland receiving corps either, particularly Andrew Hawkins, who dropped a throw that could’ve kept the Browns on the field on their second possession.
After moving out of the pocket, Manziel threw a strike to Hawkins for a first down that was dropped after the wide out was hit by Reggie Nelson. Yes, it was a big hit, but we’ve seen Hawkins take bigger hits and hold on. The drop forced another punt, forcing the defense back on the field.
Walt Anderson. Yes, today’s referee was a culprit as well. Apparently, Mr. Anderson likes being on television, calling nine penalties on Cleveland. While some were deserved, two on the Bengals first drive aided them to a 7-0 lead.
The first was Barkevious Mingo’s roughing the passer call on a third down throw. Yes, technically, Mingo’s helmet hit Andy Dalton’s, but the outside linebacker didn’t lead with his headgear. Instead of forcing an early punt, Cincinnati kept possession.
The second call, a horse collar tackle on Justin Gilbert against Giovani Bernard didn’t give the Bengals a first down, but it was still terrible because Bernard didn’t go down as a result of the so-called illegal move.
Also, the illegal man downfield against Ryan Seymour on a screen pass to Jordan Cameron was also a reach.
In a 30-0 loss, pointing to the officials seems a little tacky, but could the game have been different if Cleveland forces a punt early? We’ll never know.
The Defense. The Cleveland problem stopping the run reared its ugly head again today, as they allowed 244 rushing yards. We don’t know the success rate of teams that allow over 200 yards on the ground in an NFL game, but it probably isn’t high.
Manziel didn’t play well in his debut, and the shutout loss today put the Browns out of the playoffs again barring some sort of miracle. However, we should see progress next week.
That’s a reason to stay interested in this football team.