Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is like a miniature version of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. A free spirit who isn’t known to turn down a good time. Their adventures are well documented and both have been criticized for their social activity. However, whereas Gronkowski is looked at as a meathead that just loves to have fun, Manziel is characterized as a delinquent that can’t stay out of trouble. I believe the biggest issue for Manziel is that he plays for the Cleveland Browns.
Browns head coach Mike Pettine benched Manziel this week for partying during the team’s bye week. Let me repeat the latter part of that sentence. Manziel has been demoted to 3rd string for partying during the team’s BYE WEEK. There’s a few things that seem amiss with Pettine’s decision. Unless, before the bye week, Pettine and Manziel mutually agreed that Manziel would not “party” or that Manziel had to stay at the team’s facilities, then the demotion was made in haste. During the bye week most players take the time to unwind, recuperate, and spend time doing things they otherwise enjoy during the offseason. Expecting a 21 year old with no family to sit around Cleveland, Ohio where paparazzi would be following his every move does not seem smart. Traveling home to Texas and spending time with friends while not running afoul of the law does not merit a demotion.
Manziel is a victim of his own success and probably even juvenile arrogance. He can’t go out in public without a casual fan or ESPN keeping tabs on his movement. Does anyone know what Teddy Bridgewater or Marcus Mariota did on their bye week? Both players are more talented than Manziel but are not ‘click worthy.’ Should we assume since there is no video of them partying that they were both at home studying the playbook for an entire week? If the media was not so obsessed with Manziel’s movement, we probably would have never known he went to a club. Furthermore, if not for over zealous fans looking for quick fame (and money), footage of Manziel rapping over a Future song would never see the light of day.
Manziel is clearly in a lose-lose situation. Although I do agree he should be smarter about his whereabouts, I feel that the Browns handling of his situation is indicative of why they’re a moribund franchise. No matter what Manziel does off the field it will be used against him to dictate his status on the team.
The underlying issue with this saga is with Mike Pettine and his staff’s effort to cover their asses. Manziel is the perfect scapegoat to mask poor draft decisions and horrible coaching. Since 2007 Manziel is the third first round quarterback drafted by the Browns (Brady Quinn, Branden Weeden) and almost two full years in the league he looks to be on his way out of Cleveland. How can you build a team with that kind of turnover at the most important position? Pettine is attempting to make a case for his next job as he is clearly over his head with the Browns.
Pettine playing musical chairs with his quarterbacks is his way of letting other league GMs know that he did not have the talent on his roster to be successful. Cornerback Justin Gilbert was drafted thirteen picks before Manziel and has been a bust thus far. Former Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was supposed to be the cornerstone of the offense before he was exiled from the league. Pettine has had a hand these personnel moves. It is often said that the quarterback is the CEO of an offense. What does that make the head coach? An intern? Thus far Pettine has been a below average coach and to me he is throwing Manziel under the bus to save his rear end. To those that study the game, Manziel has improved with his on the field decision making. Isn’t that what truly matters in the end?
There will be people that will harp on the incident with his girlfriend in the car. The gravediggers will go back to when he was filmed rolling up a dollar bill as if he would use it for an illegal substance. While all these things may be a sign of Manziel’s lack of maturity, it is not is a distraction to the Cleveland Browns. Successful franchises overshadow the misdeeds of individuals. The New England Patriots had a murderer on their roster and were able to successfully disassociate themselves from him. The Indianapolis Colts had a player allegedly shoot someone outside of his business, and now it seem more like an urban legend than it was a distraction at the time.
Johnny Manziel definitely needs a change of scenery. The Browns have botched this situation. They did not make an attempt to trade Manziel. They could have deactivated him (a la Terrell Owens with the Philadelphia Eagles) to distance themselves from him and keep him away from the team. Now they have to wait until the offseason (which looks to have started already for them) to move on from Johnny Football. Manziel is still a kid at heart and hopefully will garner attention from the Toys-R-Us of the NFL.
Johnny, make sure you answer all calls from the Dallas/Ft Worth area code. Jerry Jones may be on the other line.