Last year, the Cleveland Browns excited the NFL and fans of the team by moving up a few spots in the draft to take former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
The media swarmed training camp and Manziel’s progress in practice and the pre-season were closely monitored by everyone.
He didn’t win the job to start the season as Brian Hoyer led the Browns to a 7-4 record, but Hoyer started to show some warts and Johnny Football made his debut against Buffalo and led Cleveland to a touchdown on his first drive.
Unfortunately, that was the high point of his season.
However, after Hoyer struggled mightily at home against the Colts, a game the defense played magnificently, coach Mike Pettine named the rookie the starter against Cincinnati.
The Bengals led 14-0 after the Browns had the ball once, a three and out, and the myth of “Johnny Football” was gone.
What if Hoyer played well against Indianapolis, making the Browns 8-5, keeping them in playoff contention, and Manziel didn’t see any action after the Bills game?
Everyone connected to the Browns would be looking forward to the first round pick being the starter going into the 2015 season, and no one would be doing stories about how unprepared the kid was to be the starter in those games.
But the games against the Bengals and Panthers did happen and now there are serious questions as to whether or not Manziel has a future in the NFL.
Those games could show Manziel that he needs to put a lot of work into his profession or he will be out of the league fairly soon. Whether he does this or not, the proof will be during the spring mini camps and when the team convenes in Berea (or wherever) in July.
Right now, it doesn’t look like he is making it a priority in his life to be a starting signal caller in the NFL. He appears to be more interested in being a celebrity.
So, what should the Browns do?
We have already advocated that six quarters of action isn’t enough of a look to decide Manziel can’t be an effective player in the league, but he needs to show he has the dedication and he needs an offensive coordinator and quarterback coach who will tell him the style he played in college won’t work in the professional ranks, and teach him to be a pro passer.
If Manziel comes to camp in July and doesn’t put the work in, then the Browns have a big decision, and we wouldn’t have any complaint if they let him go at that point.
Until then, GM Ray Farmer can’t put all his eggs in Manziel’s basket, nor should he settle for Brian Hoyer. The Browns need to attempt to upgrade the position if they want to get to the post-season.
In the meantime, the people who want to “send a message” to the locker room by cutting the rookie aren’t thinking clearly. They view him as a punk who will never amount to anything.
That’s short-sighted. He has some ability and the Browns owe it to themselves to find out if he has the determination and drive to be successful in the league. However, they can’t wait too long.
Six quarters isn’t enough of a sample size. What they really need to see is the level of commitment from the player himself.