One man is the reasoning behind a complete franchise blowup. He did it so flamboyantly, so ignorantly, and so immaturely. That is Johnny Manziel’s legacy as a Cleveland Brown. The man who could have saved Cleveland to the man who destroyed it, all in a matter of two years.
There were many people who at the beginning of the draft wanted the Cleveland Browns to take Manziel, and I promise you I was not one of them. Fans were split on whether to take him or not, and the prolific quarterback was taken 22nd overall.
Now it was known the Browns were bad at drafting not only quarterbacks, but mostly all players in general. General Manager Ray Farmer has been bad at drafting from the start of his tenure and the only true noticeable good draft pick within the past couple seasons had been cornerback Joe Haden. But even he was injured for the majority of the 2015 season.
Although draft picks and free agents have suffered (talking about you Dwayne Bowe), the Browns most formidable choice was the drafting of Manziel. After the Browns drafted Manziel, I had no choice to become a fan of the guy. And trust me, I wanted Manziel to succeed after we signed him. Although I did believe Brian Hoyer deserved the starting job for Cleveland’s first season under Mike Pettine, I pushed myself to believe Manziel would be the future. Hoyer was to be the starter and Manziel would take the reins after he learned the system in a few short seasons.
That was the way it should have went.
Instead, after a Hoyer-led 7-4 start that Browns fans continually bring up also put us in the top position of the AFC North, the front office and other Browns fans began to pressure the coaching staff and especially Head Coach Mike Pettine. For some reason, people thought that a quarterback change in the back stretch of the season when the Browns are almost in the playoffs was a good idea.
Now Hoyer’s stats were not fantastic (he finished the 2014 season with 12 touchdowns to 13 interceptions), but the man knew how to win. His stats only got worse as pressure to start Manziel increased.
And can you blame him for performing badly? The pressure he was under to perform had to be incredible. Every pass he threw had to have him thinking he may not be playing in the next series.
The hometown hero was crushed and Manziel was suddenly the starter. The Browns lost their remaining five games.
We all know the stories, or at least think we know them, regarding Johnny Football and how his partying and drinking have destroyed him. The rehab that was a waste of time for him, the incident with his girlfriend, the “concussion” that may or may not have sent him to Vegas, and the firing of a GM and coach because this boy was such a distraction to the team that the team could not perform because of him.
I have nothing good to say about Farmer’s time as GM, but Pettine showed promise that could never be fulfilled because of the pressure to play Johnny when he did not deserve to be in the league and the pressure to win football games with a team that has less talent than the 76ers.
And yes, I know that is an NBA team but what does it matter when the Browns hire a baseball scout to figure out football analytics.
The problem now is again, what do the Browns do at quarterback? Draft a Jared Goff or a Paxton Lynch, stick with Josh McCown or Manziel, or start a pitcher behind our poor offensive line?
If you ask the man who called into 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland and cried about what Manziel has done to the Browns, the answer would be to trade him as soon as possible and move on. I would agree with that decision.
Youngstown CBS Sports Radio co-host Ryan Alessio had an interesting take on what Cleveland should do to Manziel. Saying if he was “Evil Ryan” and in charge of the Browns, Alessio said he would keep Manziel on the Browns for the remainder of his two seasons left on his rookie contract – as a backup. Let him do what he wants, come to practices or games drunk, and ruin himself even more, Alessio added. Alessio also said that he would draft Goff or Lynch and even if the new Browns starter threw 20 interceptions, Manziel would stay on the bench. Whoever our starter is would be our guy.
The fact is that Johnny does need punished. He needs to grow up and if I were Jimmy Haslam or Sashi Brown or Paul Depodesta I would be very much tempted to take the “Evil Ryan” approach on this and keep him as a backup.
Grow up Johnny, the world is always watching you.