Jason La Canfora: Was Playing Johnny Manziel That Difficult?


CBS Sports writer Jason La Canfora took a chance to slam the Cleveland Browns for playing Johnny Manziel, by asking, “was playing him that difficult?”

Even the biggest critic of Johnny Manziel should at least be able to agree that the former 2014 first-round pick deserves more opportunities to prove he can be the Browns’ quarterback of the future.

He posted a 92.1 passer rating against the 49ers–a team that owns the 27th ranked pass defense in the NFL. Manziel did what he was supposed to do. He looked poised and moved the chains. Had Manziel struggled against Eric Mangini’s dreadful defense, Browns fans would be spending their Monday checking out where quarterbacks are going in the latest mock draft.

After nearly two full seasons in Cleveland, the Browns, and their fans, still don’t know if Manziel can play. The only way to figure this out of course, is to put him on the field.

That’s why CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora didn’t waste an opportunity to blast the Browns and the way they’ve handled their star QB.

La Canfora wrote:

"“Finally, the Browns let Johnny Manziel play football again. Was it really that difficult? I mean he had been on the active roster every week, anyway. To the surprise of no one who has paid them any mind this season, the offense came to life and the huddle had energy and they played hard for the youngster. Manziel looked unbridled and relieved and continued the upward trend he’s been on, as far as playing quarterback. The kid has been enough of a gamer to merit a look for a while and if he keeps this up I could see owner Jimmy Haslam falling in love with him all over again (not that he ever totally ever turned on the kid, otherwise he’d already be gone).”"

The MMQB’s Peter King echoed La Canfora’s words, but Kingwas a little more critical of Manziel’s bye-week adventures that led to his two-game benching.

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King wrote:

"“This is why you play Johnny Manziel as long as you can. Manziel is an investment, a first-round pick you have to look hard at before the off-season, when you change coaches and perhaps the entire front office. The new regime has to know what Manziel is. So he should have had six games to show his stuff, but he was a twit during his bye week and now will have four games to give the Browns—and the rest of the league—a good window into his pro game.”"

Looking back, the decision to bench Manziel against Cincinnati Nov. 6 was a mistake. Punishing Manziel by not letting him play under the lights on Monday Night Football was probably enough, and the Browns missed a key opportunity to see how Manziel would play against a good team that he had already seen once this season.

Lots of fans are sick of Johnny’s act. In two seasons here, all he’s really done is gain a reputation as someone who says one thing, and does another.

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Words and talk mean nothing now. The only thing that matters is: Can he play? Browns’ Town is finally getting to find out, and hopefully Manziel will stay healthy enough in the final three games against playoff bound competition to give his boss, his coach and his fans, a clearer picture.