Johnny Manziel: Teammates Uncertain of His Ability


The Cleveland Browns off-season has been an interesting one, if you like watching dumpster fires. Johnny Manziel has not been the only problem but he seems to be the root of my of the issues. He allegedly threw a party causing Josh Gordon‘s Week 17 suspension and him to miss his own treatment. He has since checked himself into rehab and hopefully working on improving his life. Since the end of the season Kyle Shanahan asked for and was released from his contract and Dowell Loggains was fired, Manziel was reportedly a part of both of those decisions.

Now the Browns have to decide what to do moving forward at the most important position on the football field. Can Johnny Manziel get his demons under wraps? Even if he does will he put forth the effort necessary to be a starting level QB in the NFL?

There is one final question, one that we did not think would be an issue, at least yet. Does Johnny Manziel have the talent needed to be successful in the NFL? That is a question that some of his teammates are asking according to Mike Freeman in this morning’s B/R post:

"This is where maybe many were wrong about Manziel. Maybe it’s not just the partying, the lack of preparation or the possible substance abuse. Those are issues, to be sure, but as far as his ability to win at the NFL level goes, they’re not as big as the larger problem.And that problem is this: Maybe Manziel can’t play.What I can say with certainty is that’s a prevailing theme among a significant number of players in that Browns locker room. That’s what I’ve been told by several of them. The ESPN story about the locker room dissatisfaction is extremely accurate, but what is also true is that by the end of last season, some of Manziel’s teammates didn’t just doubt his ability to learn and prepare; they doubted his ability to be a competent quarterback.This means that when Manziel returns to the team, he will not just have to overcome doubt about his work ethic, but also the belief that he’s basically an oversold version of Akili Smith."

(I wanted to give you a much smaller sample from Freeman’s article but these statements all are so powerful, and back to back, that they needed to be added here.)

Wow! If it is not the substance use, the partying and the preparation that is the biggest concern for his teammates, but his actual ability on the field, then the Browns are in some trouble. NFL players have a good feel for who can play and who can not. While many Johnny Manziel apologist will point to only 7 quarters on the field, his teammates and coaches have seen him practice all season. They saw what they had, and some were not impressed to say the least.

That puts the Cleveland Browns in a very, very difficult situation. If the front office, like the players Freeman talked to, don’t believe Manziel has the actual talent to succeed then they must move on. Nothing he does in rehab, not extra effort on the practice field or film room and no weight lifting will change actual talent. It can increase talent, it can help overcome minor weaknesses but it cannot change Manziel’s talent level.

If Manziel does not have the talent it takes, the Browns wasted a 1st round pick and more importantly did a poor job of scouting. An oversold version of Akili Smith might be worse than being called the next Ryan Leaf. Ability should be pretty evident in practice. His ability to drive the football, hit players on the move and have touch on the ball are all things that can be seen. If it is not there, the Browns have a problem.

This report, if true of players, coaches and executives, could help explain some of the murmurs about the Browns and Marcus Mariota. Here is the big question: If the Front Office screwed up so bad scouting Manziel, what gives us confidence they can get the next QB pick right?

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If this report is both true (that players think this) and right (that Manziel indeed is not very talented) then the Browns best course of action is to hide him and hope to increase his trade value. Nothing more valuable in the NFL than the unknown of a backup QB. The Browns could sign a veteran QB while drafting a young one and hope that after this season, where Manziel doesn’t see the field, a team like the Dallas Cowboys make a run at him.

We don’t doubt this report is true, some players likely see problems related to Manziel’s talent. We do doubt that it is right, Manziel showed good arm talent and accuracy in college and hasn’t just lost it. Likely the issue is related to his belief in his ability within the system. Thinking too much, not being confident on where throws are going and a general unease could create problems that seem like talent issues.

For the future of the Browns, we hope we are right about Johnny Manziel and his teammates are wrong.

Do you think talent is an issues for Johnny Manziel?

Next: 2 Round Mock: Replacing Manziel and Added Weapons