The Cleveland Browns have been an utter disappointment. Year after year they have failed to even make a run towards relevance. Heading into 2015, the signing of veteran quarterback Josh McCown was sold as a piece that will help them march towards relevance. Well, looking at McCown this year, he has had an alright year, but nothing special enough to take this Browns team to another level. And just like many thought would happen, the Browns are being the Browns again, as the long-standing fans of this team suffer through another tough season. But along with the struggles of the team, there has been a power struggle between the front office and the coaching staff. The coaching staff has been behind playing the veteran quarterback Josh McCown if he is healthy. The front office, however, has been wanting Johnny Manziel to get some time with the starting unit. And although Manziel has gotten some time with the unit this year, it was only because McCown could not play due to injury. The coaching staff, led by head coach Mike Pettine, had the upper hand in who played quarterback. But now it seems the tide has turned. Johnny Manziel has recently been named the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns for the remainder of the season. And from the sound of it, the decision was almost forced upon the coaching staff by the front office of the team, led by general manager Ray Farmer. There is no doubt a power struggle going on in Cleveland as well as a disconnect between both front office and the coaching staff. And this decision to go with Manziel could affect a lot of things in the organization.
Manziel was an exciting player when he was in college. The former Heisman Trophy winner played the game almost like he was the quarterback in a pickup football game. And many times, he made plays that he could probably not repeat. The excitement Manziel brought in college fascinated the front office of the Browns so much that they moved back into the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft to take him. Their thinking was he could be the quarterback to lead them eventually. But the team and the coaching staff have found ways to keep him on the bench behind Hoyer last year and McCown this year. With him now getting the rest of the snaps to finish the season, the Browns will now be able to find out what they do (or don’t’) have in Manziel. The fact of the matter was he was wasting away on the bench for Cleveland. And for someone the organization traded up to get, they needed to find out if he could be an asset to the franchise. By finding out what they have, the organization can decide what they need to do with the quarterback position. If he performs well and they want to keep riding with him, they can keep him and add to other spots. But if he performs poorly, then it will allow them to get ready to explore other options knowing they did their due diligence. It may be admitting they were wrong in drafting him, but it is better to find out now rather than later.
What the Browns may find out is they have a guy that can make plays at the NFL level. Manziel has shown some growth from his rookie year to this year. In his rookie year, Manziel was quick to scramble and abandon the pocket, even when there was no pressure at all. By doing this, he would destroy the integrity of the play and make a negative play happen. And along with the negative plays, he would also take on unnecessary hits from defenses that could have injured him. In this season, he has looked much smoother as a NFL quarterback. Instead of being so quick to abandon the pocket, he is now looking over the field and reading his options. And as a result, he has had more success than last year quarterbacking the team. The presence he has shown in the pocket this year is definitely an upgrade over last season. The thing that will be monitored is not only how he does stat-wise, but how he commands the team. Plenty have questioned the antics and attitude of Manziel over time. And we all know the list of questionable decisions that he has made not involving football. But the decisions on the field and how the players accept him will be a part of the determining factor on his tenure in Cleveland. If he is able to get the players behind him, then that will help him show that he can lead this team. If not, then he is gone after the season.
The front office has made their play and they are choosing to ride with Manziel the rest of the year.. But along with Manziel getting the start, the end could be signaling near for Pettine as head coach in Cleveland. Once your power to make decisions has been taken away, that is when the end is near. Pettine can ask Colts head coach Chuck Pagano about that one if he wants to. Manziel is getting his shot, but he is doing more than playing for his job. He is playing for others jobs in the front office. We shall see if Manziel, Pettine or Farmer are left standing after this move made today.