CLEVELAND – His owner loves him. His general manager is lukewarm at best. His coach utterly abhors him. Yet for the most part, his teammates and fans love him. Oh, what it is to be Johnny Manziel.
In leading the 3-10 Browns to a 24-10 win over the equally hapless San Francisco 49ers, Manziel improved to 2-4 as an NFL starter and the city of Cleveland got its first win in three tries over a Bay Area team in 2015, curse you Golden State Warriors and Oakland Raiders!
Be that as it may, in his first game after a two-game timeout from his wanna-be macho tough-guy WWE reject, masquerading as a NFL head coach in Mike Pettine, Manziel showed that he could play within his VHS-Beta, Neanderthal 90’s run-first type of system from last millennium, in making good throws, extending plays when necessary and displaying better-than-average arm strength.
Naturally, the nay-sayers will say that it WAS Blaine “Blame” Gabbert and the woeful Forty-Whiners—as they are called by their silver-and-black wearing neighbors from the East Bay—but while this win wasn’t against the likes of Charles Haley, Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jerry Rice, a win is a win, especially in Cleveland.
To say that the much-scrutinized Manziel is the quintessential media lightning rod among Dawg Pound Nation is as blasphemous as the day that Bill Belichick cut Bernie Kosar back in 1993. Feelings and emotions run deep and are sharply divided when it comes to debating Manziel.
Is he or isn’t he the Browns future?
Only a polarizing hard-partying and brash player such as Manziel can command the off-the-field headlines for going to rehab, a domestic traffic incident with his girlfriend, be demoted for having drinks during his bye week AND become a trending topic on social media for signing a fan’s $100 bill during warm ups.
Every throw, snap and nuance of the former Heisman Trophy winner is so intricately dissected in Cleveland, that you swear that every Browns fan is a voluntary scout for the team.
In Cleveland, it’s either you love to hate Manziel, love him or hate to love him. Such a dysfunctional and complicated relationship between a city and it’s football team’s possible franchise savior is only fitting for such a dysfunctional and perennially befuddled franchise such as the Browns.
While I will go on record and say that I have been one of his biggest supporters since Day One to start, I cannot help but get the feeling that these last three games are nothing more than a glorified showcase to wet the hook for a certain owner down in North Texas.
Again, I want the Browns to actually grow a brain and stick with Manziel for the sake of continuity, and let him develop alongside some young talent in Josh Gordon(maybe), Duke Johnson, Terrelle Pryor, Travis Benjamin, Gary Barnidge and Isaiah Crowell.
Maybe, JUST maybe, the Browns decide to take a impact player such as pass-rusher Joey Bosa from THE Ohio State University, linebacker Jaylon Brown from Notre Dame or ACTUALLY pull the trigger on a top-flight WR(pray that ol’ Ray Ray is no where near Berea) in Laquon Treadwell from Ole Miss or another Buckeye in Michael Thomas, then the Browns may be onto something.
Again, it is wishful thinking, but if the Browns decide to resist the urge from fans to run Manziel out of town for the likes of hometown kid Connor Cook, Jared Goff or Paxton Lynch and actually stick to one quarterback for once, then Cleveland will be on its way towards stability.
Yes, that was NOT a typo. Cleveland and stability in the same sentence. One can only hope, but in the case of Manziel, Cleveland needs to commit to him now or never going forward.