If NFL seasons played out like fairy tales in Cleveland, Johnny Manziel would have led the Browns to a dramatic win over the Bengals on Sunday before winning the final two games of the season to lead the Browns to a division title and playoff berth in his first three starts as an NFL player.
As anyone with a sense of history could tell you, though, there are no fairy tale endings for the Browns. Manziel’s first NFL start looked uncomfortably like Brandon Weeden’s as Manziel threw for 80 yards and two interceptions in a 30-0 loss to their cross-state rivals. After the game, Browns coach Mike Pettine said Manziel “looked like a rookie,” although the rookie didn’t use that as an excuse for his dud.
“It’s tough to come out there and lay an egg like that and I put a lot of that on me,” Manziel said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I’m not using the rookie excuse – it’s not me. Yeah, I’m a rookie but that’s out the window. I needed to play better. I felt coming in to today that I was absolutely prepared for today. Being out there, I never felt overwhelmed or that it was too much for me, but when it comes down to it, football is football. You need to make more plays than the other team and we didn’t do that.”
Manziel said he wasn’t “going to be written off forever” because of one bad start and that’s certainly true. He’ll get a couple more chances this season to get things pointed in the right direction before 2015 rolls around and then he’ll have an offseason to work with the team’s staff on growing as a quarterback. There’s plenty of room to do that with nowhere to go but up.