Johnny Manziel shows growth in up-and-down outing


Robert Griffin III wasn't the only quarterback on Thursday night hoping to rewrite last year's horror show. There was also the case of Johnny Manziel.

The second-year Browns quarterback took over the offense on Cleveland's second drive of the night after starter Josh McCown opened a perfect 5-of-5 passing for 33 yards with a 2-yard touchdown strike to Travis Benjamin in a 20-17 loss to the Washington Redskins.

Every game, all season

Manziel's first toss of the game was batted down by Trent Murphy of the Redskins. On his second, Johnny escaped pass rushers to roll out and complete an underwhelming 4-yard lob to Terrance West on third-and-6. Manziel got new life, though, after the Browns recovered a muffed punt return by the 'Skins, handing Cleveland the ball back on the Washington 36.

From there, Manziel hit his stride, finding wideout Brian Hartline for 14 yards and running back Isaiah Crowell for another six before peeling off the left side of Cleveland's line on a 12-yard touchdown scamper that showed off his speed. Where Manziel simply forced runs last season, this was an example of him using his feet to help the team.

We still want to see better ball placement on some of Manziel's lobs. He nearly encountered disaster on a final first-half possession that saw him force the ball to tight end Rob Housler. Redskins linebacker Keenan Robinson came close to taking it away. Johnny was sacked two plays later to end the drive.

Manziel hit the field for one final series to open the third quarter, but it fizzled out after three plays, leaving Johnny 7-of-11 passing for 42 yards on the night -- at just 3.8 yards per pass.

All in all, Manziel's performance synced up with what we've heard all summer: He showed more control of the offense and made better decisions, but he still looks like a player in need of more reps and more experience on the field.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast questions whether "True Detective" has been more disappointing than the Jets and dives deep into the mailbag to answer questions about the Redskins' offense.