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Manziel: If you want the hype, you have to play better

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With Johnny Manziel's ugly debut against the Cincinnati Bengals drawing heat from all corners, the Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback knows only he can slow the avalanche of criticism.

"If you want to talk a big game and have all this hype around you," Manziel said Wednesday, per NFL Media's Jeff Darlington, "you have to play better."

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NFL Films guru Greg Cosell on Tuesday ripped Manziel, saying the rookie "lacks any feel for the pocket" while sporting an "average arm by NFL standards." Former Cleveland quarterback Bernie Kosar went further, calling Johnny Football just the next in a long line of passers destined to fail inside a Browns organization he called "not a winning football culture."

"I think that's a little dramatic," Browns coach Mike Pettine said Wednesday of Kosar's rant. "I know I've talked about that before. Sometimes guys will make comments that are a little bit over the top."

As for Manziel, he isn't giving up on himself just yet, promising to "make faster decisions and harder throws" Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

NFL Media's Brian Billick isn't buying it, arguing that too many talent evaluators likened the former Texas A&M star to Seattle's Russell Wilson, when "Manziel reminds me more of Troy Smith than Wilson."

"In Baltimore, we drafted Smith out of Ohio State in 2007," Billick wrote Wednesday for NFL.com. "Smith won the Heisman Trophy, like Manziel, and possessed a similar skill set when he entered the draft process. The difference is we took Smith in the fifth round, not the first, viewing him as a multi-tooled project who could do a lot of different things. Like Manziel, Smith had terrific athletic ability and eye-popping collegiate production, but he lacked the skills necessary to succeed in the NFL."

How do we assess a player who's been called the next Russell Wilson, Doug Flutie and Troy Smith -- all within a few weeks?

While legitimate questions exist about the long-term viability of running quarterbacks (and specifically, Manziel), writing off a rookie after one game is more a commentary on today's NFL -- and the people who follow and cover it -- than the player himself.

It was one start. It was ghastly. But it wasn't the end.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast discusses Jay Cutler's benching and what it means for his future with the Bears. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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