It appears Johnny Manziel isn’t done just yet.
The beleaguered second-year quarterback played well – or at least not bad – in a 20-17 preseason loss to Washington on Thursday, going 7-of-11 for 42 yards and rushing twice for 14 yards and a touchdown.
“I thought he looked good,” Cleveland’s 92.3 The Fan host Ken Carman said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I think the reason why people are excited about him is because he actually looked like a pro quarterback. He went out there and got the nomenclature down and actually knew plays and took command of the huddle, which is something we didn’t see last year. And I’m not going to call it a redshirt year. He’s behind the 8-ball, there’s no doubt about it. When guys call in, they have their eyes set on Cardale Jones being a Cleveland Brown next year or Connor Cook being a Cleveland Brown. It’s because (Manziel) was a complete and utter failure on and off the field last season. So to have a quarter-and-a-half of good play, of smart play – I think it’s a building block and it gives some folks some peace of mind, thinking, ‘Okay, he actually can do it. Let’s see if he can take it a step further now.’”
Toward the end of last year, it felt like the Browns’ coaching staff was already moving on from Manziel. Were those reports premature?
“No, absolutely not,” Carman said. “And honestly, I think that the coaching staff is still more than wiling to move on from Johnny Manziel. It’s up to Johnny now to see whether he wants to actually play in this league and play with the Cleveland Browns, or if he just wants to be what Johnny used to be. There’s always going to be rumors. With a guy like Johnny, there’s always going to be rumors about what he is, what he isn’t. There’s certainly a lot of rumors that float around in Cleveland. But when it comes down to it, all of them are unfounded. Right now, he’s been able to stay clean (as far as) we know. He’s been able to stay quiet, absolutely quiet, and it also shows that he’s also able to go out there and actually command a huddle and play in an offense. This is a guy I can’t talk about starting yet, but he’s a guy that – again, he’s got to go out and show that he wants it. Because it’s no longer, ‘You’re our pet, you’re our first-round guy, you’re the guy we want, the money signs, the marketing, the way that you can be the face of the franchise’ – it isn’t that anymore. It is brass-tax football, and if it isn’t that, they must move on.”
This season is pivotal from Manziel, especially since there will be so many pro-style quarterbacks available in next year’s draft. Indeed, for Cleveland, this could very much wind up being a bridge year to draft another quarterback.
“As of right now, yeah – until he proves them wrong,” Carman said. “I still think by the end of the season he’ll be given that opportunity. Johnny knows that his football future is very much up in the air. He’s dedicated himself to football, but if we get to this point where we’re halfway through the year or toward the end of the year and it just doesn’t look like it’s there, I don’t think anybody’s going to try to force it. No more messing around. You take a great, big, 6-4, 6-5 quarterback and you roll the dice with another one and add another one of those names to that jersey over there in the Warehouse District.”