Wow. Sunday, the Cleveland Browns played their worst game of the season. Maybe in a few seasons. This was a mathematical must-win game, the final home game of the season, a game against the first-place Cincinnati Bengals…and the Browns just didn’t show up.
In Week 10, the Browns beat the Bengals soundly, 24-3. The team has gone south since then, but there was hope! This was Johnny Manziel‘s first NFL start! He’s going to re-energize the offense! Remember the “experts” on the radio saying that? I figured at least he couldn’t play worse than Brian Hoyer has recently. Right?
Manziel looked really bad. It was set up for him to have a good day: He was playing at home against a team they were familiar with in front of a crowd that was foaming at the mouth to see him finally play. And he was terrible. So was the team around him, but nobody cared about the people around him. It’s all about the quarterback, right?
I feel like a lot of what he did that looked so bad was him being a rookie: Throwing into coverage, dancing out of the pocket too quickly, and leading with his helmet on runs. (He also tried to make a tackle on Dre Kirkpatrick on an interception return. No, no, no, no.) He seemed confused at times.
He’s a rookie making his first start, I get that.
What I didn’t get was the passes he threw with no zip on them. He tossed these soft passes that were begging to be intercepted. He almost got Andrew Hawkins killed in the first quarter when he floated a pass that hit Hawkins right in the numbers. But as he stood there waiting for the pass to arrive, the defensive back for the Bengals ran into him at full speed and the pass fell incomplete. If he had put anything on that pass, it’s a catch.
I’ve confessed in the past that I didn’t watch Manziel at Texas A&M, so I don’t know if this has always been a problem or not, but EHC’s Jim Pete assures me it isn’t. That’s good because as I watched him do that over and over, I kept hearing Merril Hodge calling him “Tim Tebow“.
Manziel’s line, in case nobody saw it: 10 of 18 for 80 yards, sacked 3 times, threw 2 interceptions. On the ground, where he is such a threat? Five carries for 13 yards. What’s even worse is that one run was for 10 yards. Yes, that means he got three yards on the other 4 carries.
Andy Dalton didn’t exactly light it up, either. He was 14 of 24 for 117 yards, 2 sacks and 1 interception. His completion percentage and yards per attempt were no better than Manziel’s. But he didn’t need to light it up. The big difference between the two teams was in the running game.
Jeremy Hill was able to rush the ball 25 times for 148 yards and 2 TDs. Giovani Bernard had 15 carries for 79 yards. Add 3 carries, 14 yards, and another TD from Rex Burkhead, and that’s 43 carries for 241 yards and 3 TDs from the running backs.
In comparison, the Browns running backs managed 40 yards on 12 carries.
The Browns offense had the ball for eighteen minutes less than the Bengals. They managed three first downs that didn’t come via penalty. 3rd down? 1 of 10. Total yards? 107. No one found the end zone. Heck, the team only crossed the 50 once.
I really hope this is a fluke game for Manziel. This quarterback question has to get settled. I do not want the Browns to be going into the next draft looking for another starting quarterback, or signing some veteran guy who doesn’t have it anymore. If he stinks the last two games, do you make a run at Hoyer when he becomes a free agent?
Oh my gosh, it’s started. Talk of the Draft and of free agency. No!
I suppose I should be grateful that it hasn’t started until the middle of December, but I’m still not ready for it. The Browns have two games remaining. I hope that Manziel can show us something that can give us hope for next year because on Sunday he dashed any hope that was left for this year.