Johnny Manziel got the chance to see what a real dual threat quarterback should look like up close in watching Robert Griffith III play in Monday Night Football's preseason game between the Cleveland Browns and the Washington Redskins. RGIII knew when to run and when to sit in the pocket and deliver. The perfect balance that Manziel will need to harness in order to properly utilize his skills with the Browns. Manziel did struggle more so in his second preseason game, however that does not necessarily give the starting job to Brian Hoyer as he did not perform any better. This 24-23 loss was mostly a defensive battle until the end where a single two point conversion with no time left on the clock would give the Browns the win. On the last play, Connor Shaw was unable to convert and the Browns end up 0-2 in preseason play. An ominous sign of things to come in the regular season? Hopefully not but here are some takeaways from this Monday night nail-biter.
Still no clear choice at starting quarterback
It would be thought that by the sec0nd preseason game a clear front runner would have emerged on the team but with an overall poor performance offensively in the first three quarters of the game, neither Manziel nor Hoyer had shown they were starter material.
As predicted, Brian Hoyer was there to open up the game but was sacked on the very first play. On his first two possessions, Hoyer went 0-2 resulting in consecutive 3 and outs.
After an interception by Joe Haden still in the first quarter, Johnny Manziel got his chance to play with the first team against the first team Redskin's defense. In his first drive, he went 0-1 and was sacked on a play where he looked as though he had given up on the pass and was about to take off and run.
In the second quarter, Manziel starts the ball from his own goal line and the Browns get the first pass completion of the game. Manziel goes 2-7 on an 11 play drive which was helped significantly by runs and penalties against Washington.
After an interception from Kirk Cousins by Cleveland secondary, Brian Hoyer surprisingly comes back in the game with good field position. On that drive, he still doesn't complete a pass going 0-2 resulting in a field goal. In Hoyer's next two drives before the end of the half, he goes 2-2 and the Browns have only accounted for 84 total yards of offense.
Starting the second half, Manziel came back in the game. Following a Kirk Cousins TD pass, Manziel goes 2-4. On his next possession he gets a big 3rd down and 10 conversion following two unsuccessful scrambling attempts where he ended up diving head first into the turf. Keeping the 8 minute drive going, Manziel is able to deliver a shovel pass to running back Dion Lewis for a TD. Most of the work on that early fourth quarter play was done by Lewis as Manziel gave the shovel pass only a couple of yards near the line of scrimmage for his first TD pass of the NFL.
Connor Shaw gets to come in at nearly the end of the game to go 8-9, 123 yards and 1 TD. Maybe this guy should be in contention for one of the top two spots.
All in all Hoyer was 2/6 for 16 yards while Manziel went 7/16 for 65, 1 TD pass and -1 yard rushing.
In a game that saw 6 quarterbacks total, Hoyer and Manziel had the worst stats of all of them.Shaw went 8/9 for 123 yards and 1 TD in the 4th quarter alone
Defense looked good
The defense will probably have their work cut out for them this year if the offense can't ever get rolling consistently. They seem up for the challenge though. Impressive was the secondary, obtaining 3 interceptions including a pick six in the fourth quarter.
First round draft pick Justin Gilbert made a great play on the ball in the back side of the end zone with a pass from Cousins in the second quarter. The Redskins were able to run it in on the next play but that was exactly the big time play you want to see from your first round cornerback.
Early in the game, RGIII was visibly flustered being pressure by the pass rush. The Browns' defense were able to successfully get 2 sacks and one fumble recovery.
Most impressive defensively for the Cleveland Browns was the goal line stand in the second quarter. Right on the goal line, the Cleveland defense stuffs 3 consecutive run attempts and a fourth down conversion attempt resulting in a turnover on downs.
Running back tandem of Tate and West
Some of the most quiet and best moves made by the Cleveland Browns in the off-season were acquiring Ben Tate and drafting Terrance West. It looks as though both will be relied heavily on in the offense which is a good thing because of the suspect passing game right now. The backs seem more than able to get the chains moving consistently. Both backs saw positive gain on nearly ever touch they received however were much too limited on receptions. The two running backs had combined for 18 rushing attempts while the entire team ran the ball 27 times. Compare that to the 31 pass attempts in the game. Ben Tate accounted for 51 yards and West for 31 yards.
Dropped passes, passes thrown behind the recieverBen Tate rushes for 51 yards against the Washington Redskins
The first and second team quarterbacks and receivers looked badly out of sync Monday. Neither Hoyer, nor Manziel were able to establish any sort of rhythm or continuity with the receivers. Too many passes were either thrown behind a receiver on the run, thrown too low to the ground or outright dropped.
This lack of sync between quarterback and receiver may have a lot to do with the splitting of reps between a backup and starting quarterback. The receivers never really get a chance to get in a rhythm with a quarterback in the way a team with a definitive quarterback would. The reps together in practice are what makes things go smoothly in a game
Manziel's hand gesture to the Redskins
This probably is not too surprising for many people. Johnny Manziel was flipping the bird to the Washington Redskins sideline in response to taunts directed at Manziel.
"I get words exchanged throughout the entirety of the game, every game, week after week, and I should've been smarter," Manziel said. "It was a 'Monday Night Football' game, and cameras were probably solid on me, and I just need to be smarter about that."
There seems to be a pattern of public apologies emerging from Mr. Football.
Other Notables: Josh Gordon 1 catch for 8 yards surprisingly still playing into the 4th quarter of the game, Anthony Armstrong 49 yard kickoff return, 11 penalties for 100 yards charged to Washington, Connor Shaw hit Emmanuel Ogbuehi on a 45-yard Hail Mary as time expired.