By Ray Hanania
Rookie Cleveland Brown’s quarterback Johnny Manziel got his first NFL start Sunday hoping to lead the charge against team rivals the Cincinnati Bengals. But the Bengals hammered the Brown’s 30 to nothing on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
Many blamed Manziel, but others pointed out that the problem was with the Brown’s Defense which surrendered 244 yards to the Bengals offensive drive. Manziel was sacked three times, too, which didn’t help much either.
Manziel, who is of Lebanese Arab American heritage, took a surprising 22nd seat draft last May moving from Texas A&M to the Cleveland Browns. The 2012 Heisman Memorial Trophy Award winner, sometimes nicknamed “Johnny Football” for his phenomenal college football performances, was the most anticipated professional football player to enter the draft at the Radio City Music Hall in New York in May of this year. Instead, he sat sullen-faced, according to newspaper reports, as picks were made, awaiting his, until the Cleveland Browns.
Manziel on threw for 80 yards with two interceptions and had more punts (seven) than first downs (only five), with two of them coming as the result of penalties. But again, a major part of Manziel’s performance was the failure of the Brown’s offensive to protect him during plays.
It was a tough start and a tough game for Manziel but that doesn’t mean his star won’t shine. The back-seat drivers in the media, like ESPN’s loud-mouthed analyst Merril Hoge, were unrelenting in bashing Manziel.
Hoge viciously slammed Manziel saying, “whoever drafted him in Cleveland needs to be fired,” according to one media columnist. Hoge also said Manziel “doesn’t have the skill set” to meet expectations of being a first-round pick and predicted “it’s going to be a quick exit.”
Brutal and unfair. Manziel deserves a chance.