Looked a lot like the guy we've been waiting to see, a lot like the guy we did see in the win over the Titans seven weeks ago. Manziel showed flashes of brilliance in the first two quarters, leaving the pocket, buying time, and keeping his eyes downfield until he could fire a laser and make a big play. He did it with Duke Johnson twice, the second time hitting the rookie running back with a TD toss. The Browns had momentum heading into the break. The only thing that could slow 'em down was...
Actually walked off the field at the end of the first half and said to the sideline reporter that he needed to 'go calm Johnny down', and get him to stay in the pocket. In other words, the dynamic, athletic plays that we just referred to, the ones that the Bengals couldn't seem to stop? Pettine had seen enough of those. He wanted to harness Manziel the same way he did during the second half of the Titans game. Johnny still managed to save the coaches from themselves back in Week 2. He had no chance of doing it on Thursday night.
I liked it better when we didn't hear Randy Starks' name, as we didn't seem to for much of the first eight weeks of the season. Thursday night, the Browns' defensive lineman actually pulled off a rare double-whammy, kick-starting a Bengals drive in the second quarter with a 15-yard taunting penalty, and then saving that very drive for the Bengals by lining up offside on 4th and 2 from the Browns' 6 yd line. Two plays later, the Bengals scored, the lead was 14-3, and the Browns were in a hole they never climbed out of.
Remember a week ago, when the Browns actually found a way to get 'away' from the big-play ability of Duke Johnson? They actually did it again, watching Johnny throw to the rookie for 26 yards in the second quarter, and later in the same drive, find him in the end zone for their only touchdown, and, all together now, they NEVER threw to him again. You can't make this stuff up.
Browns fans are (understandably) an angry, frustrated yet somehow still loyal bunch. They deserve so much better than this. Where's Jimmy Haslam? I can't remember the last time he delivered a message to the fans. In fact, I can't remember the last time I saw him at a game. But I can remember this: Pettine is 2-12 in his last 14 games as head coach. And he's working with the (lack of) talent that Ray Farmer gave him. The only thing worse than another regime change at this point would be staying the course. Jimmy...candidly...we're waiting.
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