Goodbye, Johnny Football.
Johnny Manziel has officially been waived by the Cleveland Browns after just two short seasons with the team. The former first-round draft pick was perhaps most memorable for his inability to stay out of trouble off the field and for being decimated by the Cincinnati Bengals.
In his first NFL start, Johnny "Money" Manziel struggled, resurrecting images of a young Reggie Bush--a standout college player who, on tape, didn't look like he belonged in the NFL. Bush was the victim of a brutal hit in Week 6 of his 2006 rookie season, which brought up questions of whether he was too small to compete at the highest level.
Manziel faced similar scrutiny after his first start, a 30-0 home blowout against the Bengals. This game in itself provided the majority of the Bengals' top 10 plays against Manziel (they only played twice against him), as it was a statement game after the Browns beat the Bengals in primetime, in Cincinnati just weeks prior. With that, let's take a look at the top 10 Bengals plays against Johnny Manziel.
Honorable Mention: Rey Maualuga's bad behavior and play that didn't count
Cincinnati's middle linebacker made a couple of the most exciting plays of his team's 30-0 shutout of Manziel's Browns. When the Bengals were already up big, Maualuga made a key pass breakup, taunting Manziel after the play and drawing a penalty that gave Cleveland a first down. While it was a boneheaded move, the Bengals were already up so much that it didn't even matter. The play was fantastic, and in retrospect, Maualuga's taunt is pretty hilarious.
Following the pass breakup and ensuing penalty, Maualuga stole the show on the next play of the game--but it didn't even count.
An offsides penalty on Geno Atkins negated the interception and return, but the game was virtually over at this point. Fans didn't even seem disappointed that the interception didn't count. Rather, they seemed to find it humorous that Manziel had to go back on the field again in what was an absolute embarrassment for the Browns.
10. Reggie Nelson sets the tone, lays out Andrew Hawkins
Johnny Manziel's struggles against the Bengals, contrary to popular belief, weren't really on Manziel as much as they were on his receivers. The quarterback got solid blocking from his line in both starts against Cincinnati, and he made a lot of nice reads, but Cleveland's receivers seemingly couldn't bail out their quarterback a single time in either matchup with the Bengals. This hit by Reggie Nelson was simply a great play by the defense rather than a fault to Manziel or Hawkins, but it shows the tenacity with which Cincinnati's defense played in both games against the Browns. Watching Manziel's frustration with his receivers, however, never gets old.
9. Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry hit Manziel hard
Neither player was able to record the sack, but regardless, this play has to hurt. Manziel was constantly under duress in both matchups against the Bengals.
8. Carlos Dunlap chases down Johnny Manziel, records a sack in both games
Dunlap recorded 10 tackles, three sacks and two run stuffs in his two games against Cleveland with Manziel under center. He was dominant in both games.
7. Geno Atkins blasts through line, delivers shot to Manziel on sack
After stringing together a nice couple of first drives in his second matchup with Cincinnati, Manziel was awful. He only completed 5-of-19 (26.3%) passes on throws that traveled at least six yards downfield, the lowest completion percentage in a game for a Browns quarterback on such throws in the last three seasons, per ESPN. He was also pressured on 24 of 40 dropbacks, which, at the time, was the most quarterback pressures by a team in any game of the 2015 season. The Browns gained 181 yards in the first half, but they were atrocious after halftime, gaining just 32 yards (1.5 yards per play).
6. Adam Jones picks off Johnny Football
This play does a great job displaying the chaos and pressure Cincinnati's defense brought against Manziel. Narrowly escaping a sack, Manziel lobbed up a risky pass, and as a result, Adam Jones picked him off with ease.
5. Geno Atkins flips, drills Manziel into the ground on a sack
This may be the most painful play Manziel endured when facing the Bengals. Atkins, despite facing a double-team, managed to bring down the Browns quarterback by flipping and drilling him into the ground.
4. Brandon Thompson gets the sack, flashes the "money sign"
Who was supposed to block Brandon Thompson? The defensive tackle blew by Cleveland's center and guard, getting the easy sack on Manziel. That the defensive lineman was able to bring down the quarterback with only one hand is insanely impressive.
3. Dre Kirkpatrick picks off Manziel
Manziel's first of two interceptions against Cincinnati (which both came in the first matchup) came at the hands of Dre Kirkpatrick. This was a game-changing interception, and it gave the corner momentum, as he tallied two huge interceptions in the Bengals' victory over the Denver Broncos the following week.
2. Wallace Gilberry doesn't fall for read-option, celebrates with "money sign"
Easily the Bengals' most iconic play against the quarterback, Gilberry's tackle for loss on Manziel played on TV screens around the world for a week after this play happened. The defensive lineman's celebration indicated one thing: things weren't going to be nearly as easy as Johnny Manziel thought they would be.
1. Michael Johnson lights up Manziel, forcing incomplete pass
Goodnight, Johnny. Happy trails.