There are a lot of moving parts in Cleveland right now as Browns owner Jimmy Haslam mulls whether to hit control-alt-delete yet again. And that decision-making process should ultimately determine whether or not Johnny Manziel has any kind of future in LeBron James’ city.
The former first-round pick, who has struggled with alcohol and maturity issues in a tortured, two-year stint in Cleveland so far, has already played his last down this season, being ruled out for the Week 17 matchup against Pittsburgh due to a concussion suffered in last Sunday’s setback against Kansas City.
Manziel wasn’t officially diagnosed with the head trauma and placed in the league’s concussion protocol until Wednesday when he arrived at the Browns’ complex in Berea, complaining of symptoms, something many Manziel trolls joked was nothing more than the result of the embattled quarterback’s latest hard-partying night.
Manziel finishes his second season with paltry numbers, completing 129-of-223 passes for 1,500 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions in 10 games, going 2-4 as the team’s starter.
So, how does Cleveland move forward from here?
The first domino has to be clearing up who will be making the actual decisions, and by all accounts, general manager Ray Farmer will not be given the opportunity to right his wrongs. More so, the fact that so many point to the 2014 draft where Farmer missed on both Justin Gilbert and Manziel in the first-round as his most egregious mistakes don’t speak well to Manziel’s future in town.
Conversely, at least one national report has Pettine, who is 10-21 as the Browns’ head coach heading into the season finale, coming back for a third season and that is also troubling for Manziel. Dating back to the offseason when the Texas A&M product spent time in rehab, two different NFL sources told FanRagSports.com that the mentor has no interest in playing babysitter to an entitled kid with no work ethic.
Pettine went on the record Thursday to admit Manziel once again needs to address his personal issues in the offseason if he wants a future in Cleveland.
“Here is a guy that has an NFL skill set,” the coach claimed. “He’s very talented, if you spend some time with him, he’s a likable guy, you root for him. But there are problems there that we’ll talk as we’re headed to the offseason about getting addressed. And I’ve said this before, we want to make sure that all of our players are in good shape as people first, players second. Because I don’t think you can be as effective as you can be as a player if things aren’t right off the field.
“(Manziel is) a good example of that.”
Two videos of Manziel’s partying have surfaced in recent weeks and many around the Browns believe he is reverting back to his pre-rehab ways or even worse, never distanced himself from them in the first place.
“I don’t think we can really mandate it,” Pettine said when addressing Manziel’s behavior. “There can be strong suggestions as far as how he handles it but by the rules of the league, we can’t say, ‘Hey, you need to come in here and meet with (quarterbacks coach) Kevin O’Connell three times a week.’ It’s against the rules. You can’t do that. You’ve got to be able to send him off with a plan and check in every so often, and when the desire is there to want to get it changed and want to be better, hopefully you’ll have a good result.”
That’s as clear a shot as Pettine can deliver off Manziel’s bow.
Help is not for those who need it, it’s for those who want it.
Only Johnny Manziel can turn around his life and career around and to this point, he’s shown little interest in making that happen.
“I haven’t really started to even really think about that,” Pettine said when asked about Manziel’s future. “We just want to find a way to get through this week. …As we wind it down, obviously, we’ll start to look forward, but we have plenty of time once the seasons over to do that type of analysis.”
— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the The Sports Bash on ESPN South Jersey.
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