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The Mirage: All-In on Johnny Manziel

An old friend, Brian Tarcy, returns to the Orange and Brown Report with some thoughts on the Browns quarterback situation. Agree or disagree? Let us know in the forums!

I am quite surprised to have arrived here now, especially given the fact that the Cleveland Browns are into the annual this-is-the-worst-it-has-ever-been part of the season. But I am all-in on Johnny Manziel as the Cleveland Browns quarterback of the future.

While Mike Pettine has not seen enough to believe in Johnny Manziel, I have. I have also seen enough of Mike Pettine.

So I won’t be mad at all when Jimmy Haslam breaks his promise and cleans house the day after the season ends, because even he has to see that the organization he constructed is a complete disaster.

However, I will be angry if this team ships Johnny Manziel anywhere else to go become a star.

You want to punish Johnny Manziel for his behavior? Make him stay on the Browns for his whole career. Many in the league would call that plenty of punishment. His only choices should be the Cleveland Browns or a Direct TV commercial with Brian Bosworth and Matt Leonard.

But beyond the laughingstock reputation of the team is the very real possibility that Manziel, unlike Leonard and Bosworth, might actually have NFL talent.

Before the Manziel draft, I was totally against drafting him. I thought he was too small for the NFL. When I first saw him play, I hated him because it seemed anyone could have gone into the huddle and called plays with more authority. Plus he seemed too small.

But since then, when he has played, I saw a few things that have gotten me pretty excited for his future:

1) His arm strength and accuracy are both impressive. It is hard to argue that he throws anything less than one of the nicest long balls in the NFL. His short throws also are mostly very accurate, and usually with the right amount of touch.

2) His moxie is off the charts

3) He is much tougher than I thought, and he has good football instincts to avoid collisions, unlike track star Robert Griffin III. He is small, but he may not actually be too small.

4) This may be the most important - he has gotten significantly better in each game that he has played.

So I know the arguments against him. I even agree with one by soon-to-be-ex-Coach Pettine: Manziel still needs to get much better from the pocket.

Here is the problem with that argument coming from Pettine. It comes from Pettine, who has lost any credibility to criticize.

Petting came to the Browns with a reputation as a supposed defensive guru. He has been given the highest paid defense in the NFL, full of players he wanted, and he has turned them into the worst defense in the league. The Browns are the most undisciplined team in the league. The worst tackling team in the league, etc. All of this, including the vast amounts of etc., is the result of coaching.

One thing I like about Pettine is that the team mostly seemed to play hard for him, even in trying times. For that, I respect the coach. But in a league with Bill Belichick running a finely-tuned machine where all details matter, Pettine’s undisciplined teams are over-matched and out-coached every week.

So I don’t think he’s the guy who should make the decision on Manziel. I think I am.

And I don’t care about his drinking or his money sign. The lying bothers me, but he shouldn’t have been given a reason to have to lie. He partied on his week off. So did I. See how easy it is to stop that lie.

Finally, there has been this theory floating around the NFL forever - that of the developmental quarterback. Put a guy on the bench for a while and let him learn from with a clipboard in his hand, goes the theory. Since this has worked exactly once ever - with Aaron Rodgers - this theory is floated around as something like gospel every draft day, especially in the rounds when guys like Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson or Colt McCoy are drafted.

And in the case of Manziel- who, like Rogers, was drafted in the first round - this theory was promoted vigorously by many. He needed time on the bench, they said. Well, all that hard work of sitting has been accomplished. Now it is not the time for the Browns to give him away to Jerry Jones to reap the benefits.

Yes, the Browns have a high draft pick again this year. But I haven’t heard any of these quarterbacks coming out sounding like any more of a sure thing than, say, Brady Quinn was called. In other words, I haven’t heard any Andrew Luck/Petyon Manning comparisons on this crop of maybe-quarterbacks.

So why not stick with Manziel and fix the defense or sell the draft pick for a king’s ransom?

Remember, the best receiver in the NFL, the closest I have ever seen to Jerry Rice, is returning next year. Josh Gordon should have played this year, but the NFL views his “crime” as worse than that of a guy like Greg Hardy. That’s a column for another day.

The point is that Gordon is coming back, and he and Manziel are going to be something special. Trust me.

What? Would you like a list of all the other people you DID trust? This list starts with Carmen Policy and Dwight Clark, and lately, you’ve trusted Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine.

So trust me. The best part is that I have already consulted Barry McBride on this, and he has agreed to coach the team. We both expect to be fired in two years.


Brian Tarcy is the creator of Whatzgonnahappen.com, a long-running NFL picks site in which he picks the Cleveland Browns to win every week. He is also the co-author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Football” with Joe Theismann, and the co-founder of CapeCodWave.com


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