Johnny Football’s brutal baptism

How much of a horror show was Johnny Manziel’s overhyped starting debut with the Browns? Pretty bad, to be sure — 54 net passing yards and zero points in a blowout loss to the Bengals. Still, I came up with three Hall of Famers who had a worse one, rating-wise, and various other legends and No. 1 overall picks who struggled mightily as well. That puts Manziel in the middle of this group:

HOW JOHNNY MANZIEL’S FIRST NFL START STACKS UP

Year Quarterback,Team Opponent Att Comp Yds TD Int Rating Result
1983 John Elway, Broncos Steelers 8 1 14 0 1 0.0 W, 14-10
2005 Alex Smith, 49ers Colts 23 9 74 0 4 8.5 L, 28-3
1970 Terry Bradshaw, Steelers Oilers 16 4 70 0 1 19.3 L, 19-7
1967 Bob Griese, Dolphins Chiefs 22 11 101 0 2 25.0 L, 24-0
2014 Johnny Manziel, Browns Bengals 18 10 80 0 2 27.3 L, 30-0
2009 Matt Stafford, Lions Saints 37 16 205 0 3 27.4 L, 45-27
1989 Troy Aikman, Cowboys Saints 35 17 180 0 2 40.2 L, 28-0
2004 Eli Manning, Giants Falcons 37 17 162 1 2 45.1 L, 14-10
1979 Joe Montana, 49ers Cardinals 12 5 36 0 0 49.3 L, 13-10
2012 Andrew Luck, Colts Bears 45 23 309 1 3 52.9 L, 41-21
1998 Peyton Manning, Colts Dolphins 37 21 302 1 3 58.6 L, 24-15

If you’re wondering how on earth Elway won that game — all the other QBs lost — the answer is: He sat out the second half with a bruised right elbow, and backup Steve DeBerg rallied the Broncos to victory.

As for Bradshaw, his first start wasn’t exactly well received by the Pittsburgh media. This how the Post-Gazette covered it. “I couldn’t hit the side of a building today,” Terry said. “I know I was late throwing the ball a number of times, which gave [the Oilers] a chance to cover up, but they were coming at me strong.”

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 1.46.58 PMP-G Bradshaw subheadNoll yanking BradshawBut do the math. Elway, Bradshaw and Griese had worse days than Manziel did, and they went on to appear in a combined 12 Super Bowls, winning eight. I’m not in any way predicting similar success for Johnny Football. Just sayin’. First impressions can be deceiving.

Source: pro-football-reference.com