Pettine: 'Unfair' to judge Manziel off one game

BY foxsports • December 15, 2014

It would have been hard for Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine to give Johnny Manziel a vote of confidence Monday, 24 or so hours after Manziel's first NFL start resulted in the Browns crossing the 50-yard line once.

Well, Pettine didn't give much of one.

"We feel (Manziel) gives us an opportunity to win," Pettine said of keeping Manziel atop the depth chart heading into the team's final two games despite Sunday's 30-0 loss to Cincinnati.

Pettine also feels Manziel has room to improve -- plenty of it -- and isn't ready to declare the No. 22 overall pick in the 2014 draft a bust or anything of the like.

"I think it's too small of a sample size," Pettine said. "When you look at how we played around him I think it's very unfair to judge somebody (and) what his career is going to be like off of a first start. I'm sure you could go back and find a lot of other regrettable performances in a first start.

"My level of surprise comes from just the overall play of the entire team, and that's something that we're doing some soul searching on today. How did that happen, how can we avoid that from happening? That's the challenge of coaching. I don't think any of us saw it coming. There were no signs.

"We're at a bit of a loss today to explain that in what was certainly our biggest game of the year, a chance to make a statement moving forward and win a game in the division and so many other circumstances that made this game so important and we came up so small."

Manziel called going 10 of 18 with two interceptions and getting sacked three times "very humbling" and said he'd never been shut out before, at any level.

"We're going to regroup this week and put that to bed," Manziel said. "That's in the past and you move on. People are going to have bad games. We're going to have a bad game as a unit, and now the biggest thing for us is how do you respond when some of this adversity hits us like this?"

Both Pettine and Manziel said they'd felt Manziel and the offense put in a good week of preparation and were surprised at the result. The Browns are virtually eliminated from playoff contention but play at Carolina Dec. 21 and at Baltimore Dec. 28, and both of those teams are still in playoff contention.

They'll be coming at Manziel, full bore, like the Bengals did.

"I'm not really listening to any outside noise or what anybody else has to say," Manziel said. "For me, I just need to focus on what I can control and what these guys in the locker room think about me."

Said Pettine: "We made the decision to go with Johnny. He'll be a big part of these next two games, but it's not all on him after watching the (Bengals) tape. We need to be much more consistent on defense and on special teams. These games are certainly meaningful to us, this one in particular. Like I said, we still have a lot to accomplish. We look forward to having a great week of prep and go down to Carolina and get this bad taste out of our mouths."

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