It’s a simple question, but without a clear-cut, simple answer. The question posed to our group of Browns gurus- What do you do with Johnny Manziel?
BARRY MCBRIDE: I'm not convinced that Johnny Manziel has what it takes to be successful in the NFL, but I believe that the Browns are foolish to not definitively glean the answer. What Manziel is doing is neither unique nor new. I'm old enough to remember players like Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler who had active night lives yet were Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. While Manziel's lies to the Browns about his recent incidents are inexcusable, the team should sit the player for a week and then run him back out there. To sit Manziel for the rest of the season is a luxury this horrible franchise does not have, and it is ludicrous to end the season without knowing if Manziel has what it takes.
HAYDEN GROVE: The battle between the Johnnys— Football vs. Manziel— makes the question as to what to do with the body that encapsulates two separate characters very, very difficult. There was little doubt that most in Berea were thrilled with the thought of Manziel starting the last six games for Cleveland, as it presented the organization with a win-win scenario. If he plays as well as he had, he’d have proven himself as a worthwhile investment. If he struggled, it would make the decision to draft a quarterback all the easier. With another unwise decision during the bye week, Manziel put the Browns in an even more difficult situation— one in which they had to discipline him, while also failing to see what the future (at least on the field) may hold. Having described the delicate situation the Browns have been presented with, they need to keep Manziel off the field against the Ravens and Bengals, before playing him the rest of the way. If his play over the last four games doesn’t prove that his off-field headaches are worth the on-field exploits, the decision is an easy one come May.
FRED GREETHAM: The Browns don’t have a lot of assets and to not play Johnny Manziel is wasting one. If the Browns play him and he shows he can play, they can either decide to keep him or trade him if his stock increases at all due to his play. They will likely have a top three pick in the draft and need to know if they should use it to take a top of the draft quarterback or address another need. With that said, I don’t know if you can turn the franchise over to a player who doesn’t seem to have any regard for anyone but himself. If he does prove he is a legitimate player and the franchise decides to build around him, how can the Browns trust that he won’t have another “off field incident" when it matters most down the road?
LANE ADKINS: The Browns continued search for that elusive QB landed Johnny Manziel in their lap. Manziel's plight as a high school player, a collegiate star and now an NFL backup are well documented. Through evaluation, whether it is game conditions or in-house knowledge, the Browns must grasp what Manziel can provide the organization as a potential starting QB. Trust issues surround Manziel, the Browns organization has continued to show faith in the player despite his numerous off-field issues and less than professional approach to the game a season ago -- but handing the keys over to a player of such questionable stability has left them in a precarious position. With five games remaining in a disastrous 2015 season, the Browns should put the player on the field and gain a true evaluation of his talent base in facing live bullets and determine their course going forward.
RICK GRAYSHOCK: Do you have to play Johnny? Probably. Unless you want Pettine to have any shred of credibility in the locker room I suppose. Then again, that probably doesn't matter to Jimmy Haslam, who likely already has a draft of the 'Pettine is fired' press release on his desk. This drama is just crazy. No other team goes through this. None.
JARED MUELLER: Do you play Johnny Manziel after he violated his agreement with the team? No!
Manziel showed signs that a young QB can develop in practice and in the film room. His improvements from his early season starts to when he replaced the injured McCown were clear. That means he can develop on the field. Does it mean he will be great? No, but it does mean their plan to develop him while not playing can work.
Where he has to develop even more is off the field. Playing him after he continually shows he can't/won't act like an adult only serves to entitle him more. Instead, Mike Pettine told him the standard, held him to the standard and now is holding him accountable. While I may wonder about some of Pett's X and O decisions, he is trying to build an adult out of Manziel.
On the field I saw hope for Manziel, I don't "need" to see more as much as I want to see more of him develop into an adult.
ANDREA HANGST: With Josh McCown's injury, it would be easy for the Browns to turn back to Johnny Manziel for the rest of the season. There's just one problem: There are no guarantees that the lesson learned from his Week 12 benching has sunk in, nor is there any guarantee that the reasons for it—lying and breaking promises—have been eliminated from the equation. From the little we saw from Austin Davis against the Ravens and what we've heard about him from the coaching staff throughout the year is reason enough for Davis to get the nod going forward. As for Manziel's long-term job security in Cleveland, it's not likely he is going to stick around if Mike Pettine, Ray Farmer and everyone else is being cleaned out at the end of the season. No new coach and general manager tandem is going to want to inherit Manziel and believe he's the future of the position. It appears as though Manziel being traded away or, if that finds no takers, being released, is the endgame here.