Nov 5, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive endCarlos Dunlap
(96) pursues Cleveland Browns quarterbackJohnny Manziel
(2) in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 31-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
The Cleveland Browns were unable to knock off division rival Cincinnati Bengals from the many teams who are undefeated. In the process, the Browns continued with their multiple issues.
Rapid Reaction: First Half
Browns QB Johnny Manziel looked very sharp. Despite a 1/4 start for only 9 yards, Manziel ended the first half 11/18 for 128 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, he did not turn the ball over one time. He was very effective outside of the pocket and playing on the move.
Manziel also made some great decisions, even if it wasn’t a good statistical half from inside the pocket. His intentional overthrow of TE Gary Barnidge the play before K Travis Coons‘ 15th field goal of the year is a perfect example. Why force a bad throw, the kind that plagued him last season? Instead, he put the ball out of bounds and took the points.
How good have the Browns’ running backs looked? Both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson had a great first half. Crowell had 42 yards on 9 carries (and 26 receiving yards), while showing more explosiveness and strength through the hole than in weeks past. Johnson had 2 catches for 38 yards and a touchdown. He got open a few times and his first catch could have gone for more if Manziel had thrown the ball sooner.
We’ve talked a few times about how Johnson may be the best playmaker on the roster, so it is encouraging to see that he and Manziel have appeared to figured it out.
TE Tyler Eifert is the surprising catalyst for the Bengals offense. It is easy to overlook Eifert, as he barely played one half of football last year before dislocating his elbow. But this season? He is healthy and now has 8 touchdowns after catching 2 in the first half.
Eifert gives the Bengals and QB Andy Dalton a second red zone target to go with WR A.J. Green and a presence in the middle of the field to keep teams from rolling their safeties too far towards Green. He is a big reason why this team is now 8-0.
Next: Rapid Reaction: Second Half