The hype around Cleveland Browns rookie Johnny Manziel has turned to harsh criticism after his poor debut performance in a 30-0 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
Based on passer rating, it was the second-worst the performance of the year from a quarterback. Johnny Football went 10-for-18 for 80 yards, two interceptions, and zero touchdowns.
The Bengals made one of the most electric prospects in football look like the overmatched rookie he is. After the game, people from across the NFL world came out of the woodwork to rip Manziel.
Bengals cornerback Pacman Jones told Mike Silver of NFL Network that the plan to “rattle” Manziel worked, and that some of his throws were college throws:
“This is what this game’s about — when you get between the lines, you see if you can rattle someone and get under his skin. I think we played with an edge today. It’s a lot different playing quarterback on this level. There are some throws you can get away with in college that you can’t throw in the NFL, against this kind of speed.”
SI’s Peter King took the chance to scold Manziel about his work ethic:
“It’s another wait-till-next-year situation in Cleveland, and a cautionary tale for Manziel: Get to work. Nothing is going to be handed to you. Become a student of the game. It’s too early to write Manziel off. (Really? One game is too soon?) He has some gifts. But they can only be developed through hard work.”
Ex-NFL cornerback Eric Davis ripped head coach Mike Pettine. He said on the NFL Network that Pettine “quit on [his] season” by starting Manziel.
Pettine, for his part, acknowledged that Manziel was bad. He said he played like a rookie (via Cleveland.com):
“He didn’t play well. He looked like a rookie, played like a rookie. I know a lot of it was we didn’t play well around him, but he made some obvious mistakes that typically a veteran quarterback won’t make.”
ESPN’s Merril Hoge said Manziel had “sixth-round talent with first-round hype.” Said Hoge, “As I’ve said before, it’s going to be a quick exit and it’s unfortunate, because whoever drafted him in Cleveland, they need to be fired.”
And then there was Fox’s Joe Buck, who took 30 seconds out of his Seahawks-49ers broadcast to taunt Manziel for his poor debut.
Manziel is young, unorthodox, and popular. He hasn’t sanitised his personality or stopped having fun. In the NFL — where humbleness is the highest virtue — that makes him a target. And now that he’s off to a terrible start, the knives are out.
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