Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther believes that Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel “needs more time” to succeed in the NFL.
Manziel made his first career start against the Bengals last season in Week 15 and was sacked three times and picked off twice, recording only 80 yards passing in a 30–0 Cincinnati rout. He did no better during his next start against the Carolina Panthers, completing three of his eight passes for 32 yards before leaving the game in the first half with a hamstring injury.
"Honestly, I think the kid needs more time," Guenther said, according to ESPN.com.
Guenther also believes that Manziel can become a productive starter in the league.
"I think he has good feet, is obviously a threat to run it, and I think in the right system he can be a good player," he said, according to ESPN. "There was so much expected in his first game, and maybe some of that was self-warranted, but it was so much from the fan base that you have to let him make mistakes.
"Drew Brees did it," Guenther added. "I know Drew is a little bit thicker than Johnny but about the same height.... I don't see any reason why he can't do it up there. [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."
Manziel recently admitted that the “Johnny Football” persona overtook him after winning the Heisman Trophy and during his first NFL season. He also said that he would no longer use his trademark "Money Manziel" celebration.
Manziel spent 10 weeks at a Pennsylvania treatment facility earlier this year for an undisclosed issue, but he was a full participant in the team’s off-season training program. He also reportedly moved in with a former high school coach.
- Scooby Axson