Is This Johnny Manziel’s Year?
Let's overreact for a second. Please, humor us.
Johnny Manziel went 7-11 last night on mostly short passes, rushing for an easy touchdown on a third-and-four from the 12-yard line. If you had to picture what a Johnny Manziel renaissance season would look like, this would be how it'd begin. Nothing forced. Nothing too ambitious. Taking what the defense gave him. But most importantly, it had none of the extraneous immature bullshit synonymous with the cockiest personality in American professional sports.
He looked like John Manziel.
By keeping his money fingers in their upright and locked position, Thursday night's Johnny Manziel looked distinctly more grown up. Welcome to adulthood, bro. Notice how he refrains from any celebration whatsoever.
— NFL (@NFL) August 14, 2015
For those of you who prefer to ignore any and everything associated with the NFL preseason, might I remind you that it was almost exactly a year ago when his younger iteration flipped off the same Washington football team after a harmless out-of-bounds shove late in the third quarter (of a preseason game). Did that moment not foreshadow Manziel's historically rocky 2014 season behind center? Could you not have seen that middle finger go up as he jogged to sidelines and inferred that the kid was ill-prepared to quarterback an NFL team?
The games are meaningless, sure, but you've still got to be on the lookout for red flags. Fast forward to Thursday night's Cleveland Browns preseason opener, and Johnny Manziel was definitively NOT doing this kind of shit. That's got to be worth something.
Even his postgame press conference -- when the mics were hot and a room full of reporters were eager to catch him being his old self -- showed a different person. Manziel carried himself with the subdued demeanor of a guy who no longer wanted to be the center of attention; a guy who wanted everyone to forget about his offseason stint in rehab. He almost looked sad, embarrassed by how poorly he handled his first year as a professional football player.
"This isn't my first rodeo like it was last year," a somber-looking Manziel said after the game. "That was a bit of whirlwind."
Ya, tell Browns fans about it.
Obviously, there's only so much you can conclude from a few snaps against the b-team (Josh McCown got the start), and Manziel's night included a fumble that he eventually recovered, but still, baby steps. If he's going to turn things around, this is what it'll look like.
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