Johnny Manziel has to start for the Cleveland Browns for the remainder of the 2015 NFL season.
The time has come
Yes, I didn't think I'd be saying that either when the world was watching the former Texas A&M quarterback check himself into rehab over the offseason.
But, although Thursday night's game against the Bengals saw Johnny Football come away from his fourth NFL start with his third defeat, the much-maligned quarterback finally looked to be playing at a level that at least warrants an extended look from a team who are 2-7 and going nowhere.
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The stat line from Manziel's trip to Cincinnati doesn't exactly scream 'start me,' but the 15-of-33, 168-yard one touchdown box score doesn't tell the full story as JFF avoided the pre-game massacre social media had predicted.
The first half saw Manziel look like a real-life genuine NFL quarterback - leading the team on a 92-yard touchdown drive that any QB would have been proud of. It was the franchise's longest in two years.
And, although the second-half saw the QB (and the entire team) stagnate, there were genuinely exciting moments early on as he extended plays and opted for sensible options through the progression, rather than throwing hail mary passes in desperation.
The critics will point to Manziel's inability to get the team first downs in the second half until garbage time, but there were at least two instances where the second-year player's receiving corp let him down.
One drop by Taylor Gabriel for what would have been a solid chunk of yardage was particularly brutal as Manziel's pass landed right in the receiver's chest.
Take a chance
In fact, the team around Manziel right now is exactly why the Browns hierarchy should be putting the quarterback out on the gridiron over the next seven weeks.
With a receiving corp that is non-existent bar a veteran tight end finding form aged 30, there is no point putting the reigns back in the hands of a 36-year-old Josh McCown.
The second half of the season is a chance for Cleveland to experiment and see what they truly have in Johnny Manziel, rather than play it safe and waste seven competitive games where they will learn nothing except that McCown is, and never will be, a franchise quarterback.
Yes, Manziel is, at this stage, still capable of some erratic and foolish decisions, but he is only 22-years-old. Experience is what he needs, not more time with the clipboard on the sideline.
There is certainly a growing section of support who want to see the team go with Manziel"
The Browns have allowed another campaign to pass them by. At least if they roll out Johnny Manziel for the remainder and he continues to show the signs of improvement that were evident last night, there will be something to have come from the year.
Browns fans: Should Manziel start, and will Mike Pettine ignore the opportunity? Have your say in the comments below...
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