CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, CLEVELAND, Ohio- Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, a Heisman Trophy winner out of Texas A&M University, has to be wondering if he has done enough to be considered the Browns quarterback of the future.
Due to poor decisions off the field the timeline of his ascension to that coveted position has been delayed. They include a stint at an alcohol rehabilitation center, a subsequent run-in with his girlfriend that the NFL later cleared him on, and off duty night club hopping and drinking over the directive to stay put from head coach Mike Pettine.
He, however, remains relatively popular.
On Dec.13 Johnny, 22, won his second game in four tries as a Browns starter this season, 24-10, and over the San Francisco 49ers.
Manziel put up very compelling stats. He threw for 270 yards on 21 out of 31 passes with one TD and one interception.
It was a much needed win for the Browns, with their 3-11 win loss regular season record to date, and a seven-game losing streak up until Johnny's win on Dec 13.
A week later the Browns fell to the Seattle Seahawks, 30-13, and with Manziel as the starting quarterback in that game too.
There are only two games left in this regular season, hardly enough for Manziel to be given the latitude he may need to try to prove himself.
Before the Browns bye week leading up to the Dec 13 game against the 49ers that the team won, Coach Pettine named Johnny as the team's starter for the remainder of the season. But on Nov. 24 Manziel was demoted to third string for his failure to be truthful with his head coach about a video showing him having way too much fun in a bar. Johnny was reinstated as the Browns starting quarterback after convincing Pettine that he had learned his lesson the hard way.
He was aided in his win on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers by a surprising running game that produced a season high 230 yards. So, his performance enough for him to stake his claim on the starting quarterback position going forward into next season and beyond?
His ability to throw from the pocket while seeing over his linemen and his skill in going through his defensive reads or progressions before needing to leave the pocket to extend the play can be evaluated against any NFL team. Whether he has success consistently completing passes is not totally up to him, and requires good talent around him to truly have a fair chance to succeed. So the more talented the opposition is, the more talented his protection and weapons also need to be.
In his two previous games against the Steelers and 49ers Johnny's pocket production and presents were very good. Manziel has made significant improvement in those areas and has no problem finding passing lanes to throw through. Johnny threw for 14 first downs against the 49ers and was in sync with receivers even though he has had little game time with them. He also converted six of 12 third down attempts.
These, and other stats, are key because they demonstrate a quarterback's ability to put drives together and be consistent under pressure, as well as his ability to make plays for his team. Johnny was able to find his targets quickly for the most part and throw quickly and accurately in those two games.
On Dec.13 he led his team to a victory over the 49ers, and following an embarrassing losing streak where he was not the starting quarterback. A week later, on Dec 20, Johnny Manziel and his team got soundly defeated by the Seahawks.
Yes, all young quarterbacks make mental mistakes. It is a part of growing and learning. Making mistakes is part of the learning process and are not signs of him taking steps backwards unless he continues to make them over and over again.
Johnny's progression is not unlike most talented young NFL quarterbacks coming out of the college game, which is a different environment. It just takes time.
We should remember that Manziel only played two college seasons before entering the NFL draft at 21 years of age. It is also obvious that Johnny's talents put him in the category of a play making quarterback in the NFL and not a game manager, which is what most backup quarterbacks are.