Cincinnati at Cleveland: 3 Things We Learned
Yesterday the Cincinnatti Bengals eliminated the Cleveland Browns from the AFC North Divisional race in a lop sided 30-0 thumping, to avenge their loss to Cleveland earlier this season. I'll leave it to others to break down the game but this is what we learned yesterday:
Truth: The Cincinnatti Bengals are going to win their division.
The Bengals came out in a must-win rivalry game and thoroughly beat up on the Browns and Johnny Manziel. Their defense throttled Manziel and Company, and their offense led this day by running back Jeremy Hill (25 carries, 148 yards and 2TD. Dalton only threw for 103 net yards), dominated through out this drubbing. Facing Denver next Monday night before closing the season in Pittsburgh, The Bengals control their own destiny. Even if they should fall to Peyton manning and the Broncos, their is little doubt in my mind that the talented Bengals offense will be able to exploit what has been an atrocious pass defense played by Pittsburgh this season (despite losing to the Steelers in their previous matchup, I still like Cinci on the road in week 17).
Pencil Cincinnatti in for hosting yet another divisional game; a game on which Andy Dalton's future with the team could possibly rest.
False: Johnny Manziel is ready for the NFL
Where to begin with this one...how about this 10-18 54 yards, 2 INT, 3 sacks and a quarterback rating of 27.3 just about sums up the day for the entire Browns offense. Manziel was supposed to be the savior, the guy who would come in and flourish in a floundering offense, leading the Browns on an improbable playoff run, reliving the glory days of (gulp) Derek Anderson (yes thats how bad its been in Cleveland at the QB position).
To say the 21-year-old was unprepared is an understatement. Manziel either does not know and/or trust the playbook and his teammates, or he is poised to be a bust on par with Ryan Leaf. On the first called pass play, Manziel took a two step drop looked left, pumped and immediately pulled down the ball to run on third and two. Cleveland had run the ball on the two previous plays, and with a rookie quarterback, would feature a run heavy offense (while they could). Maybe he should have thrown the ball, or at least made more than one read before taking off with the urgency of a glacier and getting tackled for a 1 yard gain.
Manziel failed to read defenses, was inaccurate at best, and tould have had a third interception had it no tbeen called back to an offsides penalty. All in all this was some of the worst quarterbacking I have ever seen a the NFL level, and I watched hugh Millen and Tommy Hodson lead the Patriots to a 1-15 record. Unfortunately for browns fans, they are going to have to hope that Manziel learned very quickly that this isnt the NCAA anymore, and if he doesnt adjust his style of play, he will not last in this league.
The one good thing that Manziel has going for him right now, is the hope that Jerry Jones was so focused on last nights gaem vs the Eagles, that he hasnt seen the game tape. If the Browns are lucky they can still get something from Dallas for Johnny Failball, especially if the Cowboys make a deep playoff run, and have lower picks in the draft.
Revelation: Just how good Mike Evans actually is.
I know that Mike Evans didnt play in this game, but when you look at his body of work with Mike Glennon and Josh McCown throwing him the ball in Tampa, one has to wonder how much of Manziel's success was actually his, or his Future-NFL-All-Pro teammate's ability lifting Manziel's game.
On the year, Mike Evans has 59 receptions for 948 yards and has already tied the Buccanneer's team record for receiving touchdowns in a season with 11, nine of which he has scored in the last seven games (six games actually, when you discard the Cinci game where he went without a score)! So far in 2014 Mike Evans has proven to be everything that Tampa thought they were getting when they signed Vincent Jackson in Free Agency. Now if they can just figure out the QB position...
Evans is proving to be worth every cent and more of his rookie contract and is just another argument for 2014 being the greatest class of rookie wideouts to ever enter the league. If this group that includes Kelvin Benjamin, Odell Beckham Jr, Davontae Adams, Dante Moncrief, Jordan matthews, Sammy Watkins and Brandin Cooks, can maintain their level of production going forward, how many of these players could have Canton in their future?