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Dawg Pound Journal: 8 Browns Observations


1)      The dissappointment in Sunday's 30-0 loss to the Bengals has carried over into Monday. It was a demoralizing effort from the entire team and from first-time starter Duke Johnson Jr..

2)      In his sophomore season at Texas A&M, Manziel completed 74 percent of his passes from the pocket – the best in the NCAA that year. Why? Because the Aggies had one of the best offensive lines in the country. In college, Manziel was rarely under siege like he was against the Bengals. Ryan Seymour, who is playing center for the first time in his football career, looked like a guy who was playing center for the first time. And those famous improvising skills didn't look nearly the same in his first full NFL game.  

3)      The offensive line was a major issue, but it was just one. Manziel's footwork wasn't polished. The velocity on his throws were the cause of two interceptions. And mainly, and this is the real issue, Cleveland just can't effectively run the football. If Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West ran the ball like they did against Atlanta, this could've been a whole different result.  

4)      The point: It's hard to judge a rookie quarterback when he doesn't have very many pockets to throw from and he hasn't played true meaningful football in nearly a year. Still, the list of rookie quarterbacks who were shutout in their first ever start is alarming. The Browns have to do everything in their power – shotgun formation, jumbo packages – to give Manziel more than three seconds to read a defense and deliver strikes down the field. They have to give him play calls that turn into completions to get his confidence going.

5)      This isn't making excuses for Manziel. This is being realistic about managing expectations when he was thrust into an offense that had been sputtering for a better portion of two months. He's at fault for the shutout, but the entire offense was all hanging their heads after the loss.

6)      Part of the reason Manziel was drafted was because he can deal with adversity and pressure because he has winning intangibles. Those will be tested in these next two games. The Browns need to see a lot more from him. But this isn't going to be an overnight thing where he looks like the Heisman Trophy winner each and every week. There are going to be major growing pains with a rookie quarterback. Browns fans and coaches have to understand this. As Mike Pettine says: Nothing substitutes for live game reps.

7)      We highlighted how bad the run defense was on Sunday in this article, but it's also important to note the defense is the main reason the Browns were in the playoff hunt down the stretch. They deserve some blame for dropping the ball against Cincinnati, but since October, the unit has been pretty much lights out.

8)      Props to Spencer Lanning, who has been punting out of his mind. In seven punts, Lanning averaged 47.9 yards with a long of 59. It's an unfortunate thing to highlight, but Lanning made Cincinnati work for its points with deep field position.

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