The Cleveland Browns Have a Maturity Problem

By Ben Haley

The Cleveland Browns were so close. Sitting in first place in the AFC North in Week 10 of the 2014 season, suddenly hope had returned to a team so far from contention for over a decade Cleveland fans had forgotten what a playoff race looked like. Josh Gordon was returning to the spotlight, Johnny Manziel was nearing his debut for a struggling Brian Hoyer, and the team’s defense was among the league’s best.

Yet just seven weeks later, things seem a bit different in Cleveland. Entering Week 17, both of the Browns first-round picks from this year are out, and the team’s top wide receiver suspended.

Justin Gilbert was Cleveland’s first pick off the board in the draft, and the hope was that he would elevate the Browns’ secondary playing alongside perennial pro-bowler Joe Haden. Instead, Gilbert’s maturity level mirrors that of a child at summer camp, or two of his teammates.

While Johnny Manziel would not have played this week regardless of his lack of timeliness this season due to injury, but the most-discussed player in the game today was late to his treatment session for an injured hamstring, earning himself a fine. At this point, Manziel’s behavior off the field is no surprise, just like the man many expected to become his favorite target this year.

One would think missing the first 10 games of the year would have been enough for Josh Gordon, yet Cleveland’s top pass catcher is not playing in his season finale due to a violation of team rules. Gordon cannot seem to stay out of the dog house, and his career will forever be limited if he cannot change his habits off the field.

You have got to feel bad for Mike Pettine. Instead of coaching a contending football team, he is like Eddie Murphy running Daddy Day Care. It truly seems as if the children on Cleveland’s roster are the only thing holding back a team that has been disappointing for over a decade from breaching a level of success the city of Cleveland has not seen since the late 1990’s .

Entering Week 17, the Browns were ninth in points allowed with 317, and seventh in passing yards allowed. It is a shame that a unit so close to dominance was derailed multiple times over the course of a season by players that have NFL talent and a pee wee football mind set. There is always next year Browns’ fans, but not if behavioral issues are not addressed during the offseason.