The Cleveland Browns and the Johnny Manziel crisis

There are two types of bad football. One is just the straight up, blatant stupidity that the New York Giants have shown us constantly in the fourth quarter throughout this 2015 season. It is a breakdown in an old coach that can’t transform and an “elite” quarterback that has rode the coat tails of his daddy and big brother — and a few lucky catches — long enough.

The second is just plain old stubbornness. Mike Pettine certainly lost the clubhouse in the dumpster fire that is the Cleveland Browns yesterday, but he also may have lost a job.

Let me start by saying that I like Mike Pettine. I think that for the majority of the season he has put a better product on the field than he had to work with on the sideline. He also handled the media-hogging, can’t-stay-out of trouble wunderkind Johnny Manziel better than most… until yesterday.

Long story short, Johnny Football’s latest antics found him boozing it up on their bye week — like most 23-year old children (because let’s face it, folks, Manziel is a big child) would. He told Pettine and the Browns brass that he wasn’t, but seemingly forgot that there are cameras everywhere in today’s society and was caught in a big lie. Pettine then promoted Josh McCown back into the starting role and made Austin Davis — a quarterback who couldn’t find playing time in a St. Louis backfield that consists of Case Keenum and Nick Foles mind you — the back-up. When McCown would go down for the season that same week, he named Davis — again, a man who couldn’t outplay CASE KEENUM and Saucy T’s favorite player ever NICK FOLES — the starter.

You want to stick to your guns, Pettine? That’s admirable, but when it comes to the players… they want to win. Or they at least don’t want to be made a fool out of and compete.


1. He should have simply cut Johnny Manziel

Simply put, Manziel was still the Cleveland Browns back-up quarterback. Davis was an ugly 25-for-38 for 230 meaningless yards. Any other situation like that, on any other team would have seen the back-up quarterback come in for mop up duty.

Look at my Houston Texans. Twice this season they fell down by 40-plus points, twice they brought in the back-up quarterback and twice they at least played inspiring second halves of football that accomplished two things. One, it allowed the fans to have something to watch and two, it gave Brian Hoyer practice time with the first string so when they finally axed Mallett, he was comfortable running the plays.

It was inexcusable. Pettine’s pride got in his way. So if he truly plans on not playing Mr. Football again this season, and if owner Jimmy Haslam won’t let him cut him, at least go on record saying that you are not on board with the decision. What’s the worse that’s going to happen? You get fired?

2. He should have played Madden Football.

If you are going to stick with Davis in a 37-3 blowout, at least make it fun for the fans. At least show that you care about the game and are trying to make it work.

When the Browns were down by 30, they should have just played four-down football. They had nothing else to lose. I get it, the main problem was that every fourth down was a fourth and a mile, but who cares? You were already making a statement, make a bigger one.

3. He should have played Manziel.

I have written plenty of articles over the past month right here at Wayniac Nation that make it perfectly clear how I feel about Johnny Manziel. I think he is a slightly more talented Tim Tebow with a lot more luggage to wheel around. But he would have helped the Browns yesterday. Heck… you would have helped the Browns yesterday.

This isn’t Indiana high school basketball. Pettine isn’t Coach Norman Dale that can roll with four players when his star fouls out and he is still two deep on the bench. This is pro football. While it is a sport, it is a business. And any business is successful by putting a quality product out on the market, not the dumpster fire that the Dawg Pound has turned into. He wouldn’t have lost any of the fanbase by playing Manziel — they probably want to see him at this point — and he wouldn’t have lost any of the players — because hey, they may have actually scored — but he would have lost his pride.

It is so ugly in Cleveland right now, that the players and Halsam himself were declining interviews after the game. When asked why, Brian Hartline’s response was my favorite:

I get it. Pettine probably felt that if he didn’t stick to his guns in the Manziel situation, he would have lost the team because it could have shown weakness. But I think what the fans and team mates saw yesterday was a man so set in his ways, he put his decision before what was best for the team.

That’s fine, but like I said, cut Manziel or suspend him. You just can’t have him in uniform on the sidelines ready and able to play when you can’t gain positive yards or score points, especially when Manziel is one game removed from from putting up 400 total yards himself.

Oh Cleveland… you’ve done it again.


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