Okay, so that was interesting for a while. Sunday, the Cleveland Browns did their best to beat the Baltimore Ravens, a victory that would have held the Birds from making the playoffs. Until 7:33 left in the game, the Browns actually led this thing. But it’s the Browns and we saw the same movie we’ve been watching for years: The defense starts to give, the offense can’t move the ball, the other team comes from behind to win. A 10-6 lead ended in a 20-10 loss.
Rookie undrafted practice squad quarterback Connor Shaw took over this week and, of course, CBS had to hit us with how many different starting quarterbacks the Browns have had since returning in 1999. 22 of them. Guess what? I don’t care. I’d rather turn over the QB position than be stuck long-term with an Andy Dalton.
It says Manziel played 5 games, but really, it was 2. He played a half in Buffalo, the entire Bengals game, and half of the Carolina game. In the other games, he was only in for one or two razzle-dazzle plays that completely lacked dazzle. Well, save that long pass down the sideline he caught that may or may not have been illegal, even if the Browns had lined up properly. Which they didn’t.
With Shaw leading the offense, the team had 13 first downs that didn’t come via penalties. Manziel has 5 in his two starts.
So does this say more about Shaw or about Manziel? I think we all know the answer to that question. Manziel was the guy picked in the first round. Manziel is the one with the nickname and hand gesture. Manziel is the one with a huge group of national supporters.
He got fined by the team on Saturday and wasn’t allowed on the sidelines on Sunday. Personally, I would have put him on the sideline just to watch the undrafted rookie outplay him. Shaw moved the offense at times. Was he effective? No. Was he the trainwreck that Manziel has been? No.
I really don’t care that Manziel threw a party on Friday night. I don’t care that Josh Gordon went to it. (Worry not; there will be a Josh Gordon edition coming, too)
I do care that they couldn’t make it to work like they were expected to. Do we all have a day where we oversleep or overdue it and need a day off? Sure. But if you’ve been in trouble recently, you’re probably going to try a little harder to make it to work as you’re expected to. Unless you’re asking to get fired.
Sunday night, Aaron Goldhammer of AM-850 WKNR said that there are rumors Manziel doesn’t want to be in Cleveland. Considering the source, I don’t know how much to believe that rumor. But it’s no secret that Josh Gordon is wanting to enter the free agent market, hoping for a healthy raise.
I’m not connecting those dots as much as I am pointing the dots out.
Fans can easily dismiss a player – “Cut him!” – but is that the wisest choice for the team to make? That question is not so easy to answer. What could you get for Manziel? 3rd round pick? Is that the over/under?
I know his fans aren’t going to like what I’m about to say, but if you knew you could get a pick in the top three rounds, if there was an offer on the table, you may want to try resigning Brian Hoyer and, if you can, go ahead and make that trade. You need one of those two guys to start next year, and remove the other one from the roster. Go ahead and push Shaw to #2 and, mid-draft, take yourself a quarterback.
Remember early in the season when Manziel actually attempted a pass? Against the Saints? About midway through the 3rd quarter, on 2nd and 13, he threw a pass that fluttered into the flat and was easily defended. That was Week 2. In Week 16, I didn’t see anything different., still fluttering passes that are easily defended. He looked good on one drive against the Bills, but the head coach warned us not to look too much into it because of the defense Buffalo was playing. Did we listen? No. Why would we listen to an NFL head coach and former defensive coordinator when we know so much about the game despite no professional experience with it?
Let me clarify something here: I’m not calling for the Browns to trade Manziel. But if you keep him, he’s your horse for next year, it just has to be that way. The gamble is that if he’s as good as everyone expected him to be, you’re set at that position. If he’s not, his value will plummet. I have an idea concerning that, but it’ll come in a later article.
As for now, there’s only one thing to say that everyone has said: One year into the Farmer/Pettine regime, the Browns have no better answers to the Cleveland quarterback riddle than they had when the year began. Yes, they’ll need to solve it to be a winner. Next year.
As for this year, the Johnny Manziel era has been nothing more than a huge, disappointing thud.