Alright. You paying attention?
Allow me to play devil’s advocate for a moment.
Now that we have that out of the way, I offer this proposal for the Browns’ week one quarterback in 2015: Michael Vick.
Yes, him. Really.
It’s not that outrageous. Just take a quick glance at the list of free agent quarterbacks available: Mark Sanchez, Christian Ponder, Brian Hoyer, Shaun Hill, Jake Locker, Matt Moore (the quarterback), Matt Moore (the pitcher), Chad Hutchinson (the pitcher), Marvin Hagler, John Entwistle, Andrew Carnegie, Seattle Slew and Charlie Frye.
Pretty slim pickings, right?
Better yet, try to take a glance at the Browns quarterbacks available. Even slimmer.
While Vick certainly is by no means the answer to the Browns becoming a playoff-caliber team, Cleveland’s options are becoming increasingly limited.
Hoyer has serious reservations about returning to the team. Manziel, it appears, is here for the foreseeable future, which could further complicate things. And, should the Browns somehow acquire Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota or another quarterback in the draft, do you dare throw him out to the wolves in week one after seeing how Manziel responded as a rookie?
For what it’s worth, Vick appears game for whatever role he’s offered. In December, he was quoted as saying he thought he can play for another couple years, and would be open to competing for a starting spot.
“I still feel like I can start,” Vick said, via the New York Post. “If it doesn’t happen and I have to grind my way back up to a starting position, then that’s what it will be. I think at the end of the day my mind-set is to just continue to play football. I love the game. I want to continue to play until it’s all out of me.”
Sounds pretty receptive to taking on any role to me.
While Vick, himself, wouldn’t represent that stability, he could be the capable stopgap that the Browns so desperately need while they groom the next (supposed) franchise quarterback.
Need more convincing?
So I came up with the top—and only, frankly—reasons why the Browns should consider Vick:
- Vick could serve as a competent placeholder while the Browns groom an adequate long-term starter in the meantime.
He’s played a similar role before and, for the most part, adequately acquitted himself in each of those situations.
Should the Browns decide to invest their future in a young quarterback, Manziel or otherwise, it would make little sense to throw them to the wolves out of the gate. Though the dates of games have yet to be released, Cleveland will play six playoff teams, including the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals each twice as well as the NFC West.
With these teams on the docket, one would figure the Browns are likely to draw a couple of touch matchups to begin the season.
- Who could be a better mentor for Manziel?
Should the Browns decide to stick with Johnny Football as it appears, Vick would represent the perfect learning experience.
Not only would Manziel be studying under someone who possesses a similar skillset, but Vick’s off-the-field history and subsequent return could shed light on the right and wrong ways of handling himself under the scrutiny of the public eye.
- Vick would provide a serious rushing threat.
Key injuries to starters exposed some glaring deficiencies along the offensive line in 2015. The Browns’ running attack, which had exceeded expectations to begin the season was submarined following center Alex Mack’s injury in week five, limping to a 90-yards-per-game average over the last 11 games.
Despite his age, Vick’s strong suit remains his mobility. Though he has become increasingly seldom called upon for designed run plays, he is still particularly dangerous when he does take off: he averaged 5.9 yards per carry last season and has never dipped below five yards per clip in his career.
His escapability and presence outside the pocket could keep defenses more honest and open up more running lanes for Isiah Crowell and Terrence West.
- A quarterback who’s comfortable filling a spot starter role while Cleveland searches for their guy has proved nearly as elusive for the Browns as a franchise QB.
Consider this: for almost every supposed long-term starter the Browns have supposed to have drafted, their predecessor has been as ineffective if not worse. We just forget about these because the next guys are so bad.
The names Detmer, Dilfer and Delhomme come to mind when thinking of signal callers who couldn’t keep the seat warm while the guy thought to be “the guy” waited in the wings.
In a strange way, even Hoyer, who just about everyone expected to eventually roll over and give way to Manziel, wasn’t able to properly fill the role as placeholder quarterback by exceeding expectations. Hoyer blew the stopgap notion out of the water with a torrid start that incited talks of a long-term contract.
Ultimately, the wheels fell off Hoyer’s bandwagon, and Manziel couldn’t answer the bell. Between Hoyer and Manziel, the Browns were left with no quarterback down the stretch after racing to a 7-4 start.
- How could he be any worse?
Seriously, look at these stats from the final five games of the season: 51 percent completion rate, two, touchdowns, 12 interceptions.
Of course, some might think adding Vick and his baggage to a quarterback stable that already includes a media lightning rod in Manziel and could include a potential first-rounder in Mariota, who has piqued the Browns’ interest, outlets have been reporting, might be a bit much.
But staying out of the spotlight has never seemed to be all that much of a concern for Jimmy Haslam.
Bonus reason- And perhaps the subconscious reason for me writing this piece: should Vick inevitably struggle, the Dawg Pound can exact revenge.