Skip to main content


Johnny Manziel says 1st start 'very humbling' as he vows to move on to Carolina


Johnny Manziel turned 22 earlier this month. That's old in football years and young in NFL years.

It's old because Manziel has been playing football long enough since he can remember. It's old enough to make his performance Sunday personally historic for all of the wrong reasons.

"It's the first game I've ever not scored a point in and been shut out," Manziel said Monday as he reflected on the Browns' 30-0 loss to the Bengals. "I've played in a lot of games, I feel like, from high school through college and that one, I've never been shut out until then. It was definitely tough."

The optimism Manziel carries about the future largely stems from just how young he is in NFL years.

His first start was "100 percent" the toughest day he's ever experienced as a quarterback at any level, he said. In his final season at Texas A&M, he led the Aggies to more than 40 points in 11 of 13 games. His teams would regularly run the 38 plays Cleveland had for Sunday's entire game in a single half.

A day like Sunday was difficult to stomach -- no way around it. Manziel just isn't dwelling on it as if it will be one of his last. He's starting the final two games of the season and hopes to enter his first offseason as a professional with a comfortable amount of productive experience to build upon.

"We're fine. We're going to regroup this week and put that to bed. That's in the past and you move on," he said. "People are going to have bad games. We're going to have a bad game as a unit, and now the biggest thing for us is how do you respond when some of this adversity hits us like this.

"It's the end of the year. We've been playing a lot of weeks. It's been a grind for us, but we want to see people in here, in this locker room, that are excited to finish out the rest of the season and want to come to work every day still ready to get better and still trying to finish the season on a positive note."

As he did after Sunday's game, coach Mike Pettine repeatedly cited the entire offense's performance as the reason why Cleveland ran just 38 plays for 107 yards. He even joked that Browns legend Brian Sipe couldn't have quarterbacked the team to a win under the circumstances Manziel faced.

Both Pettine and Manziel laid out the moments that inspired some optimism, a small list of plays that included a 32-yard connection with Josh Gordon. Pettine pointed out two -- an early pass to Andrew Hawkins and a scramble-and-throw to tight end Jim Dray -- that could have been of similar value if the receiver held on to the ball.

Still, there were far more rookie mistakes, and Manziel was quick to say there were no plays that "make you pump your fist." It's up to Manziel, who was 10-of-18 for 80 yards and two interceptions, to have far less of those mistakes against Carolina and Baltimore than he did against Cincinnati.

"The game's very different. It's different pressure," Pettine said. "In practice, you can simulate the speed as much as you can but games are very different. He had practiced well. He practiced at a high level when he was going off cards and practicing our offense. The unpredictability was part of the unknown with the first-time quarterback that factored into the decision in the previous weeks."

The experience, Manziel said, was "very humbling," but he's not putting any extra pressure on himself in the wake of Sunday's performance. It's a new week, a new opponent and maybe some new, more realistic expectations from those outside of the franchise.

Inside the locker room Monday, there was significant disappointment about the loss but none specifically directed at Manziel for his performance, linebacker Craig Robertson said.

"He's a rookie. He's not a savior," Robertson said. "He has to go through the stuff rookies go through for him to be a good player in this league. Nobody came in as a rookie, first game, and threw 100 touchdown passes."

Said Manziel: "I'm not really listening to any outside noise or what anybody else has to say. I know that I need to play better and if I don't then people are going to continue to (criticize). For me, I just need to focus on what I can control and what these guys in the locker room think about me."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content