One of the main takeaways the Cleveland Browns needed from this season was to know whether or not they had a starting quarterback in Johnny Manziel. A franchise which hasn’t had a consistent starter at QB since the days of Bernie Kosar had to determine if their 2014 first-round pick could be a tentative solution at best. Manziel’s rookie year was an utter disaster, but the newfound seriousness with which he took to this past offseason at least gave the Browns hope he may be someone they could build around.
Unfortunately, the team only saw small doses of the former Texas A&M star this year, certainly not enough to determine whether or not he’s the future at QB. Some of it was due to the Browns’ over-reliance on veteran Josh McCown, but part of this was also thanks to Manziel continually getting himself into trouble off the field.
Regardless, Cleveland simply never saw enough from Manziel to prove he could be their starter next year. His chance to get one final audition this Sunday has been dashed thanks to his being diagnosed with a concussion yesterday. As a result, the team has no choice but to target a quarterback early in the upcoming draft, potentially with its first overall pick.
It needs to be said the progress Manziel showed this year compared to his dud of a rookie campaign was significant. Much of this, however, is due to just how miserable he was last season. That said, where last year he looked like a lost cause after just six quarters of play, this time around he showed the poise and progress the team needed to see.
The problem, though, is that the Browns didn’t get to see enough. Manziel appeared in nine games this season, starting in six. In these games, there were a good amount of positive moments, but never enough to truly make Cleveland comfortable betting its future on him.
Manziel would have some incredibly solid performances, such as his 372 yard day against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but also mix in some head-scratching turnovers as well. There were moments when it seemed he was proving he could handle the job of an NFL starter, like his opening touchdown drive against the Seattle Seahawks, but he would regress soon after.
Last week’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs was a prime example of this. Though he made things competitive by rushing for 108 yards, he still struggled passing, putting forth his lowest QBR of the season.
While one final performance this Sunday might not have sealed the deal as far as whether or not the Browns could tab him as next year’s starter, it certainly would’ve helped the cause. In missing the game due to his concussion, Cleveland will now have to evaluate its situation with the tape it already has on Manziel.
With this in mind, it’s tough to argue against the fact the Browns have to make the position of quarterback a prime target in the draft.
Manziel has shown hints he could be capable of being the team’s starter next year. Unfortunately, that’s all it’s been. Just hints, nothing more, nothing less.
Additionally, thanks to yet another video popping up on social media showing Manziel partying, there’s absolutely no way the Browns can fully trust him. He may be showing progress on the field, sure, but how can you feel comfortable with him off the field, especially after he was benched for a similar instance earlier this season?
The bottom line is Cleveland is a franchise which can’t afford to regress anymore. There’s a chance Manziel could be someone to build an offense around, but there’s still so many questions to be answered. If the Browns bet on a player who still hasn’t shown enough on the field, and who continually makes mistakes off it, all this will do is set them back yet another year.
Again, it can’t be stated enough that Manziel has made significant progress this season. As it stands, though, there are just too many question marks hovering over him. Cleveland’s everlasting search for a quarterback is still unfinished, and as a result, the team has to draft one early this spring.