Why The Cleveland Browns' Awesome Fake Play For Johnny Manziel Was Illegal

Johnny manzielCBSJohnny’s catch didn’t count.

The Cleveland Browns have used Johnny Manziel sparingly so far, but on Sunday, they attempted a creative fake play that nearly resulted in a 40-yard gain. 

After a failed rush play with Manziel as the quarterback, he ran to the sidelines as Brian Hoyer came back out at the QB spot. However, Manziel never actually ran off the field, but just hung out near the sidelines.

Manziel and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan “had a discussion” while Manziel lingered on the field, just a couple feet off the sidelines. Shanahan watched the action on field, and yells “Go!” as the Browns snapped the ball.

The Ravens didn’t notice Manziel completely open, and Hoyer quickly tossed the ball to him for the first down. Manziel sprinted down the sideline for about 20 more yards before he was shoved out of bounds.

The play was initially called back because Browns’ running back Terrence West made an illegal shift before the snap, resulting in a five-yard penalty for the Browns. 

Former NFL Vice President of Officiating Mike Pereira, however, said that the play itself was illegal, and it should have resulted in a 15-yard penalty for the Browns for unsportsmanlike conduct. Eligible receivers can’t be lined up within five yards of the sideline when they’re within the bench area (between the 32-yard lines). If Manziel was at the 28-yard line for this play, it would have been legal.

Cleveland avoided the bigger penalty, but didn’t get the 39-yard gain. It will be interesting to see how often they draw up creative fake plays for Manziel.

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