As the NFL season is just days away, Cleveland Browns fans have reason for optimism because quarterback Johnny Manziel is on the team. But should he play this season?
I don’t believe he should, and it’s not because recent history would back me up, but because Manziel’s play during the preseason and consistent partying during training camp make me think he’s not ready for the challenge of NFL football.
Throughout the team’s training camp and preseason schedule — up until Browns coach Mike Pettine named a starting quarterback — national media outlets such as ESPN and NFL Network had constant coverage of Manziel and the quarterback who is now the team’s starter, Brian Hoyer.
Once Pettine announced who was starting, I thought there was a small chance we wouldn’t see Manziel play at all this season, and I was relieved. The last thing I want for any athlete is for a coach to rush them into action, something that has happened many times in the NFL.
I thought Manziel could have a similar role to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who played in just three games and threw a total of five passes his rookie season, or even like the Jacksonville Jaguars’ recent first round pick, quarterback Blake Bortles. Although Bortles had an impressive preseason, the team announced it was committed to the development of Bortles and that veteran quarterback Chad Henne would start so Bortles could sit out this season to learn the team’s offense.
Of the years in which the Browns rushed a quarterback into action — whether it be former Texas star Colt McCoy or Oklahoma State Cowboy Brandon Weeden — I thought everyone within the organization realized development may be more important than a player’s pedigree.
However, as the national media continue to create stories over a franchise’s decision to play one guy over another, us fans hear that the Browns have decided to explore the possibility of playing both signal callers.
“People have asked me about potentially a two-quarterback system and having a package for (Manziel),” Pettine said on Sirius XM Radio on Aug. 22. “That is on the table.”
As I look at the situation, having two healthy quarterbacks playing in the same game is not common, unless one is being benched or injured.
And while it was obvious Manziel didn’t have a full grasp of the offensive playbook at the beginning of preseason, he continued to show flashes with his feet and the ability to create a play.
I come from the mindset that you never play an athlete in any sport until they have a full understanding of what they are expected to do on the field or court.
Because Manziel mostly went up against second and third-team defenses and still had problems running a play correctly or reading the defense, I don’t think he should play against first-team defenses that will make his life on the field difficult.
I believe the Browns should treat Manziel like the 49ers did Kaepernick when he started. To the coaches in San Francisco, it didn’t matter what the team’s record was and it didn’t matter what their quarterback play was like. They decided to put Kaepernick in when they thought he was ready for action.
If the Browns decide they want to become a successful franchise and not have a 4-12 record year after year, then they should allow Manziel to sit out this season.
In the end, it’s better to gamble a little than to gamble a lot.