Why Griffin Makes Sense in Cleveland

So I was right! I was just about six months early.

Robert Griffin III
Griffin has 40 career touchdown passes from his time in Washington.

Robert Griffin III signed with the Cleveland Browns this afternoon, joining the laundry list of quarterback to play for Cleveland over the last 15 years. While the internet might have had some fun with this, signing Griffin makes a lot of sense for the Browns.

It’s not like the Browns have many better options on their roster right now. Josh McCown is 36 going on 70 and that Manziel guy is now a free agent with some legal trouble. The only other guy on the roster is Austin Davis, whose 13 career NFL starts have left a lot to be desired.

So instead, the Browns are taking a gamble on the former Heisman trophy winner. And there is really no harm in that. Cleveland will likely draft a quarterback with the second overall pick and all signs point to it being Carson Wentz.

Wentz has looked solid during the pre-draft process and he is seemingly pro ready. However, the Browns know better than anyone else on planet Earth that forcing quarterbacks to play in the NFL before they are ready can be catastrophic.

Griffin’s contract is reportedly for two years and maxes out at $15 million. Paying about $7.5 million per year for a short term starting quarterback isn’t a bad deal and because the deal is short, the Browns are not really committed to Griffin. He essentially has a two-year window to show if he can still play in the league. If the answer is no, then start Wentz in 2017.

RG3
Griffin is 15-24 over the first three seasons of his career. 

The reality is that the Browns need someone to play quarterback and they are taking a low-risk high-reward gamble on RGIII. And this is not Denver where they are likely just a quarterback away from a deep playoff run. Cleveland would miss the playoffs this year with Russell Wilson under center. There just isn’t enough talent. Getting Griffin gives the Browns a stopgap while they continue to try to improve in other areas of the roster and groom a future starter.

Imagine for just a second if Griffin somehow reverts to his 2012, rookie of the year form during the next two seasons with the Browns. First of all, Griffin would then have suitors around the league after his contract is over and Cleveland would have the happy situation of having two starting quarterbacks.

In the best case scenario, Griffin proves to be a stud and the Browns ship him off to Denver or Philadelphia after his first season for some draft picks. Worst case scenario is that Griffin flounders again, or even more likely gets hurt, and Cleveland turns the keys over to Wentz at the start of his second year.

All in all, I think this is a great deal for both sides. Cleveland gets a two-year rental at quarterback and Griffin gets one last shot to prove he can still play in this league.

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Have we seen the last of Johnny Manziel?

In the past I have defended Johnny Manziel. That ends here. He lost my support. He has proven to me that he does not belong in this league.

Johnny Manziel 2014
Manziel became a fan favorite in Cleveland before he ever played a down in the NFL.

Rumors surfaced yesterday that the Browns coaching staff and management was done with Johnny Manziel. Who can blame them? He might have generated a lot of excitement and fan fair when he drafted, but Manziel has been nothing but a pain in the ass since he walked through the door two years ago. He has shown himself to be unreliable, immature and uncommitted.

It pains me to say these things about Manziel. He is one of my favorite players to watch. He is riveting on the field. He has the potential to be electric. He makes you gasp and groan and everything in between. Unfortunately, off the field, he often makes you shake your head and now Manziel is in hot water for his latest antics.

The 23-year old was inactive this week due to a concussion, so Manziel decided he didn’t want to be with the team. He was reportedly spotted in Las Vegas last night, before the Browns season finale with the Steelers. He was supposed to show up for a scheduled meeting with team doctors on Sunday morning, but failed to appear. This was the final straw for Cleveland, who has been trying to police this kid from day one. Between DUIs and rehab stints, Manziel has been a tabloid writer’s dream.

Johnny_Manziel
Manziel did post a 54.7 Total QBR rating this season, which was fractionally better than Cleveland’s other quarterback, Josh McCown.

Rumor has it that Manziel is interested in leaving the Browns in order to join the Cowboys during the offseason. Remember, Dallas showed a lot of interest in Manziel during the 2014 draft and came close to selecting him in the middle of the first round. With his track record though, you have to start wondering if Manziel wants to play for the Cowboys, or hit the Dallas party scene with a couple of the team’s cheerleaders.

It is hard to name a player who has been more irresponsible during his first two seasons in the NFL. Sure, every player has their own adjustment period when they join the league but Manziel doesn’t show any signs of settling down. He just keeps doing whatever he pleases, making it clear just how selfish he is as a teammate.

The Browns are already an embarrassment of a franchise. Since 1999, Cleveland have just two winning seasons and played in just one playoff game. The Browns also managed to churn through 26 starting quarterbacks during that time span. This team is already down and out, they certainly don’t need things like videos of their starting quarterback drunk at a house party cropping up online. No franchise needs that.

Manziel has burned his only bridge in Cleveland. I can’t imagine that many teams will touch the former Texas A&M Heisman winner with a 10-foot pole. He brings with him a media hailstorm, a questionable work ethic, a tendency to get into trouble and a lack of production.

Johnny Manziel
Manziel has failed to live up to expectations heaped on him when he arrived in Cleveland.

It is easy to pretend that Manziel’s problems are solely off the field. He struggles a lot on the field as well. He has posted a 57 percent completion rate in his two seasons, while turning the ball over 14 times. He averages a lackluster 6.5 yards per attempt and lacks the mechanics of a pro quarterback. If you watch him play, it is rare that Manziel looks to more than his first option before he starts to scramble.

On all sides, Manziel is a mess. He is a middling quarterback with an attitude problem and an inability to stay out of trouble. Even if he says that he just did not like Cleveland and he would be willing to do all the right things for a different team, what does that say about his demeanor and character? That is not the type of guy that I would want in my locker room.

Jerry Jones
Dallas selected offensive linemen Zach Martin instead of Manziel in 2014.

However, Jerry Jones showed earlier this year that he was not afraid of a potential locker room cancer. He signed Greg Hardy, who immediately flared up and started fights with coaches and teammates. Jones responded by saying he wanted to resign Hardy. Jones was also apparently at the forefront of the bring Manziel to Dallas campaign back in 2014. Something tells me that he is salivating at the thought of bring him in from Cleveland. He will surely cite Dallas’ shakiness at the quarterback position behind Tony Romo as a justification for bringing Manziel on, if he does choose to sign him.

I think Dallas is the only team that might give Manziel a shot, otherwise, we could see Manziel take the route of another polarizing former Heisman trophy winning first round selection in Tim Tebow. Could you imagine those two working together on the SEC Network? Oh what I would give to listen to those off-camera conversations.

Back to the point, Manziel has made it very difficult for any general manager to consider signing him. There are simply too many red flags surrounding him. More and more frequently, teams are staying away from players with any character issues.

Maybe Manziel would straighten himself out with another team. Maybe he would benefit from learning for a year behind a veteran quarterback. Maybe he would play better with a better supporting cast. All of this is plausible but I don’t know if we will ever find out. If Dallas will not sign him, I think we have seen the last of Johnny Manziel.

Quarterback Carousel Continues to Spin

What a whirl it has been already on the quarterback carousel in the NFL. We got a really early taste this year before the season even began when Geno Smith had his jaw broken by a teammate in the locker room. That thrust Ryan Fitzpatrick into the starting role and the Jets have opened their season 2-0.

Drew_BreesWeek 2 dealt some serious blows to the stability of the quarterback position across the league. Drew Brees played all of Sunday’s game against the Bucs but he may miss next week with a bruised rotator cuff. That would place journeyman Luke McCown into game action for the first time since November of 2011. That isn’t exactly reassuring for the Saints but Verizon has to be thrilled. Believe it or not this actually affects Mark Ingram more than anyone else. The former Heisman winner has never had the chance to be a feature back in an offense but if Brees cannot play or is limited, the focus quickly shift to him to deliver. And he will need to deliver fast because the Saints are 0-2. Panic Level: Moderate

Jay_CutlerIn the Windy City, the Bears are already in free fall and Jimmy Clausen is set to retake the starting role, if only temporarily. Jay Cutler has a hamstring injury that Chicago has said will keep him out at least two weeks. Clausen filled in for Cutler last year after the latter got benched. He was passable, tossing two touchdowns but also throwing a pick. The more concerning thing is that he actually sustained an injury in that game last year, forcing Cutler back into the lineup. If Clausen were to go down, Chicago would really be in trouble then. The last quarterback on the roster is youngster David Fales from San Jose State. If he has to start for the Bears, this team will be in full scale crisis mode. Panic Level: Low (they can’t be much worse).

Tony_RomoDallas ended up taking the brunt of the pain from the losses this week. Tony Romo fractured his left collarbone, which will keep him out for the next eight weeks. The Cowboys have already begun handling his loss. They placed Romo on the short-term IR and traded for veteran Matt Cassell as a reserve option if now-starter Branden Weeden struggles or suffers an injury himself. Neither quarterback is much good but they are both serviceable, which is the best Dallas could hope for as they try to ride out the storm. Despite losing Romo, the Cowboys could still hold the division lead when he comes back based on how poorly the rest of the division has played. However, with Dez Bryant also out for probably a similar time frame, things in Big D are shaky. Everything is bigger in Texas, including the panic that should be surrounding this team. Panic Level: High

Johnny Manziel

I am starting to wonder if the Browns are afraid of success. After nearly reaching .500 last season, Cleveland made a number of questionable veteran acquisitions, including Josh McCown. They needed a quarterback for sure but not many pegged McCown as their savior. McCown entered the season as the starter but a nasty hit in the season opener left him with a concussion. In stepped the polarizing Johnny Manziel. He was far from perfect or even polished but he was productive. Posting to three touchdowns to just one interception in roughly seven quarters of relief work isn’t bad. The four fumbles are definitely concerning but Manziel has regularly kept plays alive and made something out of nothing. He isn’t throwing for a ton of yards but his is picking up a lot of yards when he does throw. He has been electric and exciting, something Cleveland has not had in a while, but the Browns maintain that once McCown is healthy, he will get his job back. I know I initially advocated against it, but after two weeks, I would like to see some more Johnny Football. They won too in Week 2, which is definitely a positive. A game against the Raiders could be winnable as well and would be a really good test for the young Manziel. Cleveland fans should actually start to panic if their original starter is in fact healthy, oddly enough. Panic Level: Moderate

Browns find themselves in a tough situation

The Cleveland quarterback carousel. It is a running joke at this point. The Browns have had so many quarterbacks come and go it is borderline ridiculous. Actually, scratch that, it is ridiculous. The last time Cleveland has one quarterback start all 16 games in the regular season was 2001, when Tim Couch was the quarterback. And before that it was Bernie Kosar a decade earlier. A couple of other have come close like Derek Anderson in 2007 or Branden Weeden in 2013, both of whom started 15 games. 

Brian Sipe
Sipe on the sidelines of a game in 1979.

That right there is the definition of mediocrity at the quarterback position. Since 2005, the Browns have had 16 different quarterbacks start under center for them. Even the Jaguars haven’t been that bad, having only 11 different players start in the same span. The Browns have not had true stability at quarterback since Brian Sipe started every game from 1978 to 1981. That was about 35 years ago! And over those three and a half decades, no quarterback has started every game in back-to-back seasons. That is simply mind boggling to me. How there has been no one to have enough success in Cleveland to start all 16 games two years in a row is beyond me.

Johnny Manziel
Manziel has avoided mistakes this preseason and shown flashes of his development.

However, the Browns do actually have some talent now on their roster at the quarterback position. Johnny Manziel came with a whole lot of question marks but he also oozed with untapped potential. He was an athlete with a great arm still trying to learn how to play quarterback.This offseason has been a major turning point for Manziel in his development, starting with rehab stint and continuing with his much improved play on the field. The Cleveland coaching staff got Manziel to buy in to really working on becoming a better player and so far that is very evident.

Johnny Football isn’t ready to be the starter yet in Cleveland though. If the Browns decided to throw him in week one because he looked good in the preseason, it would undo everything that they had worked on. Manziel would likely return to scrammbler he was in college and forget his coaching in an effort to make plays on a talent devoid Browns’ offense. Waiting a year for Manziel to really know the playbook and fully develop tendencies would be very wise.

Josh_McCown_Browns_2015
McCown joins the Browns as sixth team of his career.

Unfortunately, that means that Cleveland will have veteran journeyman Josh McCown become the 17th starting quarterback for the Browns since 2005. McCown is still riding the coattails of his 2013 success in Chicago. He only made it 11 games last season before being benched in favor Mike Glennon. His stats weren’t pretty either as he posted a 56.3 completion percentage and threw 11 touchdowns to his 14 interceptions.

This preseason has underlined his inconsistency as well. In his first game against Washington, McCown completed all five of his passes and tossed a touchdown. Then last week facing Buffalo, he proceeded to complete seven of ten passes, but threw two of the ten to the other team. Part of McCown’s struggles are definitely due to the lack of talent around him. In fact, no Cleveland receiver has more than three receptions in either of the Browns’ two losses. That being said, if McCown has another poor performance tomorrow in Tampa against his former team, fans could be looking for the Browns to start someone else at quarterback.

Johnny_ManzielThe problem is, there really isn’t anyone else to start. As I have already mentioned, starting Manziel would be a mistake this early on in his development. Outside of McCown and Manziel, the other quarterbacks on Cleveland’s roster are Thad Lewis, Connor Shaw and Pat Delvin, who combined have won two NFL games, both by Lewis. With the news that Connor Shaw could miss the whole season after thumb surgery, the selection is even more limited.


The Brown really have put themselves in a tough position here. It is pretty much a no-win scenario. Either the team suffers through an up and down season with McCown at quarterback, maybe winning six games or Manziel takes over, exciting fans, but potentially ruining all the progress he has made.  

So once again, the Browns have a big hole at quarterback. It should be interesting how they proceed. I think Brett Farve has a pretty free schedule this fall…