BEREA— Johnny Manziel’s first half on Thursday night was unfamiliar, in that it was the best football he’s played in any one of his four starts as an NFL quarterback.
Completing 11-of-18 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown in the first thirty minutes, Manziel appeared comfortable and confident— a far-cry from what he was in his first NFL start nearly a year ago— moving more like the Heisman Trophy winner than the much-maligned NFL sophomore.
Manziel’s second-half performance, however, seemed similar to that that gray afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium, in which he finished 10-of-18 for 80 yards and two interceptions in Cleveland’s 30-0 loss.
While there’s a consummate consensus that Manziel has improved between the two aforementioned battles with the Bengals, the quarterback himself seemed a bit irked by some of the misses he had in the second half.
“I would like to have some stuff back,” Manziel said, when asked to evaluate his latest start. “There were some things that I think were easy there that I missed.”
Head coach Mike Pettine agreed with Manziel in his assessment.
“We missed some throws,” Pettine said. “Johnny will be the first to tell you that he missed some opportunities.”
The opportunities that were missed by Manziel were mostly on throws he could’ve made from the pocket, but instead, reverted to rolling out and throwing on the run.
When looking at the film, Manziel realized right away that in those instances, he didn’t make the proper play.
“There's a time and a place for me to get out,” Manziel said. “There are times where I could definitely stay in there a little longer and that's just a fact of the way I play and the way I have to continue to try and adapt.”
Manziel may understand that he has to stay in the pocket to make some of the plays necessary to succeed, but knows as well that rolling out will always be one of his strengths.
“I don’t think that is a bad thing, me getting out of the pocket and running around,” Manziel said. “I don’t think anybody wants to take that away from me.”
What may be taken away from Manziel, however, is playing time against Pittsburgh, should Josh McCown get healthy enough to suit up against the Steelers.
If that is, in fact, the case, Manziel may be more disappointed in his inability to see the field than in his performance over the last two quarters, as he believes that it’s the in-game reps that will allow him to develop.
“Every week of practice I get with the guys, every game, every game-speed rep… I felt things starting to slow down more and more and seeing guys here and there,” Manziel said. “It’s going to be hard knowing that I feel like I’m getting better and learning a lot being out there and then having to go back.”
Many Browns fans agree with Manziel in that he would be better suited to start for the rest of the year and learn from experience.
Pettine, however, said that McCown gives the team the best chance to win, and will therefore take the field if healthy.
That lack of confidence from his coach doesn’t translate to a lack of confidence in himself, however, as Manziel said he feels he’s only getting better each day.
“I have a lot of confidence in my ability. I’m continuing to gain confidence in playing in this system and playing in this offense,” Manziel said. “I think I’m getting better at it, but I’m nowhere near perfect, that’s for sure.”
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.