Going into this season, no one really knew what to expect from Johnny Manziel. It is week nine and we still do not know what he can do. The Cleveland Browns have elected to play journeyman quarterback Josh McCown for most of the season.
Well, McCown has been banged up all season long and will not be able to play this week on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals. So, finally, Manziel will get a chance to play. He did start week two versus the Tennessee Titans (one of the Browns two wins), but head coach Mike Pettine went back to McCown when he was healthy again.
Manziel has been plugged into garbage time situations at the end of games and has not been given a real chance to show that he can consistently play well. This week he is given that opportunity against the Bengals, but the situation in which the Browns are playing him in is really setting him up to fail.
Manziel played a very small portion of last season and when he did, he was not impressive. The only game Manziel both started and finished was against the Bengals in Cleveland. This game was a disaster for Manziel. He was 10-for-18 for 80 yards and threw two interceptions. Manziel’s QB-rating was 27 and he only rushed for 13 yards. Needless to say, the Bengals were able to contain him in last years matchup. The Bengals beat the Browns in that game 30-0.
Manziel has not been able to consistently prepare as a starter at all this season. Now the Browns are going to start him on a short week, on primetime, against an undefeated division rival. These are all factors that will make Manziel fail.
Practicing on a short week and preparing for a defense like the Bengals will be difficult and put Manziel at an unfair disadvantage. He will be playing under the spotlight of a primetime audience, against a hungry Bengals team who wants to avenge last years Thursday night meeting between the two when the Browns dominated them 24-3. The crowd will be loud and the atmosphere will be electric. The Bengals will surely be looking towards 8-0 and will run right through Manziel to get there.
Factoring in all of the disadvantages placed in front of Manziel, lets not be so quick to criticize his play after this one. He is a young quarterback who has much room to learn and grow. Pettine will probably elect go back to McCown when he is healthy, unless Manziel is able to pull off a miraculous performance.
Expect Manziel to turn the ball over a few times and make some rookie mistakes. Yes, he is in his second year but has not gotten the chance to fail very much in the NFL. It is good that the Browns are going to play Manziel and give him the chance to see what he can provide for the future, but don't be quick to mark Manziel’s career as a failure after this one. He is not being put in any position to succeed.