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Bengals’ DC Gives Johnny Manziel Vote Of Confidence


You can call it suspicious, backhanded, or simply a sign of sportsmanship from one franchise to another. But however you want to look at it, there’s a lot to like about the comments made by Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who says that the division rival Cleveland Browns need to be more patient with troubled prospect Johnny Manziel.

The last time these two embattled franchises met, Cincy smoked Cleveland en route to a 30-0 victory, in which Manziel looks every bit the NFL rookie, eating three sacks, throwing two interceptions and amassing a measly 80 yards through the air. But that first-hand look hasn’t stopped Guenther from telling ESPN that “the kid needs more time” before anyone can lump him into the dog pile of talented college QBs that never met expectations at the pro level.

“Drew Brees [adapted],” Guenther continued, making comparison between the height disadvantage both Manziel and multi-time Pro Bowler Brees must deal with. “[Manziel] was such a high-profile guy out of college and everyone expected what he did at Texas A&M, but it’s a man’s game, it’s a lot different, and it takes time. You have to take your lumps a little bit.”

Brees, perhaps the most unlikely elite quarterback in the league, was not initially seen as the man with all the tools to succeed. After a humdrum start to his career in San Diego, he was replaced by Philip Rivers and sent to the middling Saints. In the seasons that followed, his patience, work ethic and fantastic relationship with coach Sean Payton turned him into a pinpoint throwing machine and Super Bowl champion.

It’s perhaps a little disconcerting to see a rival coach take the side of a potential franchise quarterback more readily than some within the Browns’ organisation. In fact, several reports out of Cleveland’s OTAs claim that journeyman signal caller Josh McCown is the “unquestioned” starter.

Quite frankly, to call McCown a “stop-gap” or a “temporary solution” to Cleveland’s long-standing quarterback woes would be to give him too much credit. McCown’s dismal play for the Buccaneers during all of 2014 resulted in him getting booted out of Tampa Bay in favour of Jameis Winston faster than you can say “the pick is in.”

Now, the Browns seem to think history can repeat itself a yield a different outcome. By all reports, Manziel is healthy, physically and mentally clean, and ready to at least show what he can do this season. Call it crazy, but the Browns would do well to listen to their interstate rivals.

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