Will Johnny Be Good on Sunday?
All eyes will be on Cleveland this weekend. Well maybe not all eyes, but certainly the two owned by Jerry Jones and a few other curious onlookers. Johnny Football will make his first start Sunday as the Browns try to keep their slim playoff hopes alive by hosting the rival Bengals. This is what many of us have been waiting for. First, let’s be clear about one thing – Manziel didn’t earn the job but won it by default. Starter Brian Hoyer got off to a great start to the season and had the Brown in first place up until 4 games ago. But since then Hoyer has been awful, leading the NFL in fewest touchdown passes, most interceptions and lowest completion percentage. The Browns had no choice but to hand the ball to Manziel and see what he can do.
Hopefully the man from Kerrville, Texas by way of A&M, has picked up a few pointers while occupying the best seat in the house. As the old saying goes about freshman football players in college, the best thing about them is they become sophomores. Johnny Football will be a much better quarterback next year than he will be Sunday, but he has to get through Sunday to make it to next year. If he pulls out some of his magic against the Bengals he’ll own the job in Cleveland for the foreseeable future, and he’ll have the bright lights trained on him, which he seems to love.
A big Browns win over the first-place Bengals will probably lead SportsCenter, explode the Twitter universe bigger than Kim’s giant butt and make Jerry weep. Admittedly, Jerry won’t be as bitter as he would have been if his own quarterback hadn’t played so well to this point in the season, and put the Cowboys in playoff contention. Still, you know Jerry would love to have the latest and greatest media toy in his locker room, and he’ll actually be envious of Cleveland (probably for the first time ever). Bengals coach Marvin Lewis got the hype started earlier in the week when he referred to Manziel as “a midget” on a Cincinnati radio show. Manziel took it well but you have to know Bengal players were pissed at their coach for giving “the chosen one” any more reasons to add to his legend.
Two pointers that I’ll give Johnny free of charge, after watching a lot of rookie quarterbacks over the years. Don’t, under any circumstance, stare down your receivers. You might think this is painfully obvious to any quarterback but you’d be shocked how many players (Jay Cutler, RG III, Colin Kaeperneck) do it still. If Johnny can avoid turnovers he gives the Browns a much better chance of winning, and NFL defensive backs thrive on reading a young quarterbacks eyes. Secondly, resist the urge to tuck and run. I realize that Manziel scored a touchdown last week on a 10 yard run, but in today’s game a scrambling quarterback and his head are soon parted.
Sitting for most of the first thirteen games of the season was a blessing for Manziel. I’m just hoping that he put that Texas A&M education to use and studied and learned. I, for one, will be right there with Jerry pulling for the midget to dazzle us again.