It’s amazing what a year could do to some people. For most of his life, the flashy, arrogant, self-centered Johnny Manziel portrayed a star. His family was wealthy due to the economics of oil, and his last name already had a title and registration. He just hopped in that car, and flaunted his name.
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Manziel was also born with a gift, showing off the skills to takeover the college game. Leading to a Heisman trophy award, and further branding the name “Johnny football.” I don’t use that word “branding” lightly.
Rules? Those didn’t exist with Manziel. It was almost like he was the worldwide ambassador for punks everywhere. He wanted to prove his point, and brand his style along the way. Remember his pro day soundtrack? The money sign? His relationship with the rapper Drake? Branding. That’s all it was. Reminding me a lot of Robert Griffin III (not someone you’d want to be compared to at this point).
We’ve gone over his off-field problems ad nauseam. What’s more to talk about? In the past year, I’ve seen how the perception of Johnny in Cleveland has shifted from 0-100, real quick (Drake reference). On draft day, I remember seeing people rejoicing over Manziel’s selection at local bars shown on ESPN, his jersey sales topped the league, he was “Johnny Cleveland.” He was loved.
Now seeing tweets, comments, and talking to fans, it’s almost as though they want nothing to do with him. He was suppose to save football in Cleveland, and his immaturity got in the way.
Given all of that, I’d still start him week one.
I think since that disaster of a rookie season, Manziel has changed. He checked himself into rehab this offseason, and decided he’s given up the money sign. Two BIG signs of maturity change. I’m a big believer in body language and how it relates to success. Remember that “I’m not going to change for anyone” mentality he had last year? It just doesn’t seem to be there anymore.
I watched his mini-presser when he announced he was giving up the money sign, and he just seemed different. It wasn’t the old Johnny. He was a new guy.
Now, I’m not saying his style on the field has changed just yet, but his mentality has. I think with a less reckless mentality, his play could be less reckless as well.
Starting Josh McCown does nothing for this team. Sorry to kill your pre-training camp vibe, but this team isn’t winning the Super Bowl this season. No chance. Why waste time playing a 36-year-old quarterback with a career passer rating of 76.1, who almost as many interceptions as touchdowns in his career?
We all know the eight game stretch he put together with the Chicago Bears in 2013 – 13 touchdowns, 66.5 % completion percentage, and a 109 passer rating. But that is literally the only positive in his entire NFL career. Plus, let’s not forget he had Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Matt Forte around him. He has nothing comparable to that in Cleveland.
In today’s NFL, if you don’t see production out of a quarterback in one-to-two years, teams give up anyway, so why not see what Manziel has to offer? Stop with the coddling. Teach the kid how to play the position at the NFL level, and give him valuable experience. I can’t see how second-team reps are going to make a difference during the season.
At the end of the day, not many were on board with the drafting of Manziel besides ownership – as it looked very much like a money grab – so his success doesn’t seem to fall on the shoulders of coaching or the front office. If he looks overmatched, or plays poorly, then you go to McCown.
First-round picks don’t sit on the bench, and it seems like head coach Mike Pettine put his foot in his mouth when he named McCown the starter months before training camp. Now it seems like he’s retracted from those thoughts, when he recently said he’s “not guaranteeing that Josh McCown is going to be the starter against the Jets.”
I think he’s seen a more focussed Johnny. I think we will see a more focussed Johnny. Give him a chance, Cleveland. Name him the starter.
Would you start Johnny Manziel week one? Let me know in the comments below.