CLEVELAND— A season ago, Johnny Manziel couldn't make it through a series without muddling a mere play call in the huddle.
A year later, a more mature Manziel guided the Browns offense through the treacherous conditions associated with Seattle’s CenturyLink Field.
“I saw a lot of poise and composure. I think he did a really good job of the operations side of things from an offensive standpoint,” Joe Thomas said of Manziel. “He gave us a chance to win on offense and that’s what you need to ask out of your quarterback in a tough road environment.”
Last season, the same season in which Manziel had issues verbalizing play calls, Thomas ripped the quarterback for his work ethic, or lack thereof, but, as evidenced by his aforementioned praise, has since changed his tune.
“I think (my opinion) changed kind of at the beginning of the season here, when he showed that dedication and commitment that he didn’t have last year,” Thomas said. “I think what we’re seeing out in the field is sort of the fruits of the hard work that he’s been putting in and the dedication that we’ve seen with him in the film room and in meetings. I think it’s just natural when you spend that extra effort, you’re going to see those results on the field and that’s what we’re seeing from Johnny.”
While Thomas used words like “abysmal” and “not sufficient” to describe Manziel’s rookie campaign, he now respects the work that the quarterback has put in.
Mike Pettine, the same coach who disciplined Manziel weeks ago and said he was disappointed in the quarterback’s violation of trust, feels too that he’s put in the work necessary to have success at an NFL level.
“The reason that he did the good things that he did, they’re a result of his preparation,” Pettine said of Manziel’s performance on Sunday. “He doesn’t coast through the week and all of a sudden, just show up and play. That’s a product of how well he’s preparing.”
In said performance, Manziel completed 19 of his 32 passes for 161 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but Pettine felt he played a bit better than the numbers showed.
In fact, Pettine referenced a number of the drops the Browns had, for which he wouldn’t blame Manziel.
“I think it was referenced earlier, we had some balls dropped and we had some protection breakdowns,” Pettine said. “Quarterback play’s going to be a function of a lot of things and there are a lot of things that are outside of his control. so the things that he could control, we thought he was solid with.”
Though he was pleased with Manziel’s play, Pettine, like Thomas, was more impressed by the way he handled the pressure that came with the “12 man” than the throws he made.
“You just look at the environment and dealing with all the circumstances, the crowd noise, where our circumstances going into the game as a team, playing against a team that’s hot, that’s known for their defense and feeds off the home crowd,” Pettine said. “I thought he handled it very well.”
Manziel wasn’t perfect on Sunday by any means, but it may say something that two of his toughest critics continue to to change their tune on the quarterback as he continues to progress.
Despite praising his effort level, Pettine may not be ready to have full faith in his quarterback yet, but Thomas indicated that Manziel has earned his trust, at least on the field.
“Johnny has a very, very good understanding of our protection. He’s a really smart guy and he’s really put in the time this year,” Thomas said. “It’s great just having the confidence and trust in him, knowing that you can go to him and kind of tell him what we were looking at.”
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