It appears that the Cleveland Browns are prepared to start the 2015 campaign with veteran Josh McCown under center. While this isn’t necessarily too much of a surprise, reports that the team might have already moved on from Johnny Manziel have caught some by surprise.
How can a team possibly understand what it has in a quarterback after one season? That’s a question best reserved for those in key decision-making roles within the organization.
Accordingly, head coach Mike Pettine isn’t buying into the idea that the team is moving on from Manziel, calling such reports “irresponsible.”
#Browns HC Mike Pettine said it's irresponsible to say the team is moving on from Johnny Manziel. Said he's grasping new offense well.
— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) June 2, 2015
It’s an interesting turn for a Browns organization that has failed to support Manziel publicly, at least from within the front office hierarchy. It’s not known what led to Pettine making these comments, but one could assume they stem from this report by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that claimed it’s 90 percent that the Browns have moved on from Manziel:
“I think about 90 percent (the Browns) have moved on (from Manziel) in their own minds except that they really don’t know who they’re going to get when Johnny leaves rehab, which has been an extended stay.”
That came prior to Manziel finishing his two-month long stint in rehab back in April. Up until a minor spat with a fan at a golf tournament in Texas this past weekend, all reports regarding Johnny Football’s off-field tendencies have been positive. Even following said incident, the Browns came out in support of their quarterback.
This hasn’t stopped some from openly wondering whether Manziel has taken the necessary steps on the field. ESPN’s Tony Grossi had this observation during the Browns’ OTAs last week:
“The only day media were allowed in to view one of the three OTA practices, Manziel looked unchanged from his rookie year. He was not assertive with knowing where to go with the ball and ran too much for an OTA practice,” the scribe reported. “A person who witnessed a practice after the open media session said that Manziel was worse the second day.”
Taking much out of organized team activities in May is foolhardy. Doing so when you are focusing on a quarterback that probably isn’t going to impress in this generic environment is even more foolish. The Browns may very well be looking to move on from Manziel, but it would probably be in the team’s best interest to see this play out. What good would it do to release or trade the former first-round pick at any point prior to the preseason?
If Manziel fails to show any progression from a disastrous rookie campaign during the team’s training camp and exhibition slate, then it might make sense to look in another direction. Until then, any reports that the Browns have indeed moved on from Manziel should be taken with a grain of salt.
In this, Pettine is absolutely 100 percent correct.
Photo: USA Today Sports