Johnny Manziel and Our Worst Fears Realized


The Johnny Manziel Experience may be a short lived one for the Cleveland Browns and their fans. First the coaches and owner made it clear that the quarterback situation is muddy and that they have no idea who the QB next year will be. Direct shots at Manziel. Then came the damning report from ESPN, full of quotes and information from inside the Browns:

"Interviews by with nearly 20 Browns sources, both on the record and on condition of anonymity, along with several NFL personnel sources reveal the Manziel-related problems run deep.Those who spoke talked of a yearlong pattern that showed a lack of commitment and preparation, a failure to be ready when given a chance in his first start against Cincinnati and a continued commitment to nightlife, which affected his preparation and work while in the team facility."

That is not one anonymous source. 20? Wow. That says a lot about how many people, likely some up the food chain with the Browns, were willing to throw this kind of information out there. It seems that the organization has taken the approach of airing all of this in hopes that Manziel will change. This off-season is a key one for the Browns would be “QB of the Future.”

The report details some very scary things, things that confirm our worst fears about Johnny Manziel:

"As one player put it, Manziel throughout the entire 2014 season was a “100 percent joke.”"

One of our worst fears was that Johnny Manziel would be played this season. It seemed evident that he needed at least a year to sit and learn. That doesn’t help if he didn’t use that year to sit and learn. If his season was 100% a joke than next year is his rookie year and he needs to sit and learn for a full year.

"“During the draft process, not one person interviewed by the team said he was going to grow up,” said one source directly involved in the drafting of Manziel. “You can’t blame Johnny. This is who he is. The team knew that.”"

This is irritating to me as a fan. As I analyze what the Browns are doing it helps me to think of it this way: The Browns had the 1st round pick in exchange for Trent Richardson, found money. The Browns already acquired a 1st and 4th round picks for 2015 in the Sammy Watkins trade, extra assets/talent. The Browns need a long term solution at the QB spot and Manziel was/is a boom or bust prospect. Given the other picks they had Manziel made sense as a high risk gamble. Had the Browns only had that pick I do not believe they select him. Whether that is good reasoning or not is another question.

"The Browns have an honor system with fining players for tardiness to team activities — $250 for first offense, $500 for second, etc. The money can go to charity.It’s uncertain how much coaches collected from Manziel, but one source said Manziel was late often enough that it was never a surprise when he was."

A player who was raised with money all his life, and can fall back on his family’s account, obviously that kind of money, even as it piles up, isn’t going to impact him. Money does not seem to be a motivator, and based on his history it won’t be moving forward.

"But readiness became an issue once Manziel got the starting job the following week. Several sources said Manziel either didn’t know the plays in the huddle or didn’t call them correctly. The Browns tried to get him comfortable by using shotgun and pistol formations on about 80 percent of his downs and by simplifying the offense.But more than once, teammates corrected the play call in the huddle, or headed to the line hoping things would work because the call was wrong. Sometimes, the offense would get lined up wrong because Manziel forgot to read the whole play or got the verbiage wrong (saying “left” instead of “right,” for example)."

Just ridiculous. Obviously being an NFL quarterback is not easy, and Kyle Shanahan’s offense is especially wordy, but come on. Mike Pettine was looking for a spark since the team still had an outside shot at the playoffs and Brian Hoyer was struggling. Not being able to know the play calls, especially when the team had simplified the offense for him, shows both the lack of effort and the lack of importance to Manziel.

"Some veterans “clearly didn’t want to play for [Manziel]” because of the lack of readiness, and they responded better to undrafted rookie Connor Shaw in part because he knew the plays, sources said. It wasn’t lost on players that Shaw played through a dislocated finger on his left hand and a rib injury that had him passing blood after the season finale, while Manziel played six quarters before hurting his hamstring, then missed treatment on the injury on the final Saturday because he was still in bed."

Of course veterans didn’t want to play with him, he didn’t know the plays. Shaw’s toughness, even though his talent is obviously limited, showed the kind of player that teammates with follow. It wasn’t Manziel. Manziel has presented as a follower in many ways, asking him to lead the team when he hasn’t led for most of his life is a difficult task but one he must take on.

"One source stressed Manziel worked much harder in his two weeks as a starter than in the previous three months, but it was more like cramming for a test and he could not make up for his lack of work before the starts."

That is awesome right? Look I am the starter so now I will work hard. John Lynch was announcing Manziel’s first start and said that Johnny admitted as much. The base that we had hoped would be building all season for Manziel, wasn’t there. So once he got the starting job he had to try to build a base instead of build off a base.

"Manziel still has support in the building, particularly on the business side because of the attention he commands in stadiums and merchandise lanes. Though the team said football decisions were made without influence or pressure, some coaches and many players had the clear perception the business and marketing end of the team favored the guy whose jerseys would sell."

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Of course he has support in the building. Forget the business marketing stuff. That will be there, that is those peoples’ job. Even on the football side of things he has some support. He has talent, he could make the Browns better. If he puts the kind of effort he needs to into next year the coaches and players will be fully behind him. If he doesn’t, they move on. That is the message that the Browns organization has made clear.

"“What Johnny has to understand is [if] he has another year like he just had, he’s not going to be famous anymore,” one NFL team exec said. “LeBron James is going to lose his number.”"

Here might be something that actually motivates Johnny Manziel. He won’t be famous anymore. He wouldn’t have been famous at Texas A&M either if he wasn’t producing and his team wasn’t winning. Very few seem to care about being cool more than Johnny Manziel. You know what is cool in the NFL Johnny? Winning.

You have one shot left. It is going to take effort and hard work and commitment. Three things that all reports say you lack, at least toward positive things. Our worst fears were that Johnny Manziel would play this season before he was ready and that he would be as unprepared off the field as he was on.

Our worst fears have been confirmed. Now what does Johnny Manziel do about it.

What do you think about this report about Johnny Manziel? Were your worst fears confirmed about him?

Next: Mel Kiper Re-Grades the Browns 2014 NFL Draft