Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lessons of 2014 can strengthen Manziel moving forward...we hope

If football falls through, at least Manziel has his SAG card. 
A year of Cleveland professional football is never complete until the third-string quarterback suits up for the final game. That enticing possibility hangs over the Browns this Sunday against Baltimore, a day that will likely end in defeat and yet another losing season for the lakefront bunch.

This off-season is already shaping up to be fun for pain-loving S&M types, as much talk will likely revolve around the man under center, whether it's Johnny Manziel, a veteran not named Hoyer, or blue-sky aspirations to trade two first-round picks for Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota
Spending a first-round pick on Manziel means he gets first dibs, no matter how bad he looked over a double fistful of snaps. Unfortunately, this franchise's recent history of damnable luck struck again when the diminutive rookie scrambled his way to injury against Carolina

All the Browns have to go on now is a sample size of 34 passing attempts for 175 yards, one rushing touchdown and still no clue if the undersized Drake confidant can handle the speed and complex defenses of the NFL. Manziel's made maybe five solid, NFL-worthy plays, three of those coming against a sagging Bills defense late in a game.  

After the Panthers loss, Manziel talked about being "hungry to work" during what will be the team's 16th consecutive crucial off-season. Proof of that attitude will be a tamping down of  his so-called rockstar persona, even if that means keeping his mom at home for 2:30 a.m. dinners. Sleep with the playbook, organize throwing sessions with receivers, stay off of inflatable rubber pool toys, and leave the money sign to Drakkar-drenched club-hoppers douche-ing it up on Instagram.

I'd also advocate for Cleveland's burgeoning t-shirt industry to cease all production of JF apparel until such time as Manziel can sustain a passer rating of 90 or higher over a pre-determined amount of games.

A public-facing personality overhaul will at least erase the target on Manziel's back and eliminate the media distractions, albeit largely self-created,  that heightened expectations regarding his performance. Though it's possible, even likely, that Manziel will disappear into the ozone like so many Browns' QBs before him, this year's humbling experience should be a lesson he takes to heart.