Tag Archives: Johnny Football

Cleveland Browns 2015 Preview

Some teams are cursed.  Some teams just do it to themselves.  It doesn’t matter if Cleveland’s woes are a product of black magic or self infliction – they are just a mess, from top to bottom.  Head coach Mike Pettine, opens up his second season as head coach with his best player suspended for the season and his back up quarterback as the talk of the town.


The Browns have a quarterback battle between a journeyman veteran who looked awful last season and a sophomore quarterback who had a two month long stint in alcohol rehab in the off-season.  Fun times.  Josh McCown, pulled the okey-doke on Tampa, when he looked great in his few starts with Chicago in 2013, leading the Bucs to believe they did the right thing by giving him a contract last season.  McCown really has nothing left to give, and if he beats out Johnny Manziel for the starting job. . . eh.   Manziel, is really the team’s best option.  If not for nothing else, the Browns should start him just because they spent a first round pick on him and this isn’t a team with playoff aspirations anyhow.  The world still wants to see Manziel – fail or succeed – give the fans of the NFL what they want and just start him.


Somebody needs to tell Manziel to not be so jumpy in the pocket.  The Browns, if they have anything, it’s an offensive line.  Left tackle Joe Thomas is probably the best at his position in the last decade.  The Browns will have some things to deal when this season is done though.  Their center Alex Mack can opt out after this season and tackle Mitchell Schwartz is in the final year of his deal.   Will anybody blame them for abandoning this ship when this season ends?

The backfield isn’t too shabby either.  There is a lot of youth there with a lot of upside.  Unfortunately, as of now two of those three have some nagging injuries that may leak into weak one of the regular season.  Rookie Duke Johnson, might be the best out of the three, but he has been wrestling with a hamstring issue in early practices.  Terrance West should be fine physically when the season starts, but the Browns are losing patience with him (on and off the field apparently).   He’s not a bad kid, just “plays around too much.”  Isiah Crowell is the bruiser back, who might be the lead rusher on this team by default.  Crowell is good, but better suited for goal line and short yardage situations.   The health of this backfield is everything to this offense.  Everyone knows they’re going to run the ball a lot this year so. . .


Say what you will about Josh Gordon, the truth is: he’s the best receiver we’ve barely seen play.  Without Gordon, this receiver group is just awkward and lame.  Brian Hartline is a career possession guy with limited speed.  Andrew Hawkins isn’t threatening any secondary  in this lifetime; and the Browns signed Dwayne Bowe who was the number one receiver on a team in which not one receiver caught a touchdown.  That right there says it all.

This defensive unit was disappointing last year, but when you have a bad offense continuously putting you in bad spots, there is only so much you can do after a while.  The Browns are hoping for the best by putting their rookie defensive linemen right into the line of fire.  Danny Shelton of Washington and Xavier Cooper of Washington State are two defensive tackles that have the potential to explode offensive lines right up the gut.  Cooper is the more active of the two, while Shelton tries to gobble up space inside.  This is a big defensive line, that needs to get to ball carriers early – but once those ball carriers get to the outside, it’s all on the line backers and secondary to finish the job.

The linebacker group is interesting to say the least.  Barkevious Mingo was drafted in the first-round in 2013 and the Browns have seen little return on that investment.  The potential to be a complete bust looms in the clouds circling Mingo this season.  Nate Orchard out of Utah, might do what Mingo hasn’t and that’s be the pass rusher they want from the linebacker spot.  Paul Kruger is someone people can never figure out.  Sure, he had eleven sacks last season – but what does he do really?  He’s just one of those players you just assume is above average, but he doesn’t really “wow” you, when you watch him.  Karlos Dansby is the veteran of the group who last year only had forty seven tackles in twelve games. . .


The Browns have studs in the secondary.   Donte Whitner and Tashaun Gipson make up one of the best safety combinations in the league (it’s going to be hard to dethrone that duo in Seattle. . .) and corner back Joe Haden is consistently in the discussion of “top five corners” in the league.  With Buster Skrine signing with the New York Jets, it’s time for last year’s first round pick Justin Gilbert to wake up and take control of his future.  He showed a lot of promise in college, but seemed like a fish out of water in the pros.  The Browns will surely give him his chance, but they signed veteran Tramon WIlliams just in-case Gilbert is better served as the nickel corner.

The Browns have so many interesting stories on their team, but none of it will amount to much.  There is no doubt they will stay in some games, but it’s going to a one dimensional offense and a lot of inexperience on the defense line that will ultimately hold them back.  Best case scenario is that the youth on this team gain experience in what will be a trying season, while the veterans. . . collect pay checks?

Predicted Record: 4-12

Predicted Pro Bowlers: Joe Haden, Joe Thomas, Donte Whitner

G.W. Gras


Cleveland’s Playing With Dirty Money (Manziel)

Johnny Manziel is en route to becoming a huge laughing stock if he doesn’t shape up quickly.  Half the world was rooting for the cocky quarterback out of Texas A&M, while the other half wanted to see him struggle.  The latter half of that bunch got their wish granted last season.


“Manziel Mania” was so crazy last year, that when he first saw any action in an NFL game it was in a loss to the Buffalo Bills.  In that loss, Manziel scampered for a 10 yard score and it was all anyone could talk about in a 26-10 BILLS victory.  In games that followed Manziel looked small, unsure and flat out terrible.  During and after the season, reports had come out that Manziel was not putting in the work and he hadn’t made any of the mature, necessary changes he had vowed to make once he made it to the NFL.

After his disappointing rookie campaign, Manziel continued to disappoint the Browns and his fans altogether.  Manziel had not stopped his drinking and partying ways and eventually checked himself into an alcohol addiction center.  Some can see this as a step in maturity, but this goes beyond football – it’s about this kid’s life really.

On the football side of things, the Cleveland Browns didn’t learn anything from watching the Tampa Bay Bucs last season and signed 35 year old quarterback Josh McCown (who turns 36 on Independence Day).   McCown is still living the high life after a nice 4-5 week span in Chicago two years ago.  McCown was awful last season, but for some reason the Browns coaching staff has tricked themselves into believing that he, not Manziel, will be their starter in the upcoming season.

Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo even said “Everything you’re looking for in a quarterback, Josh has.”

Really?  Why has it taken a coach to say that for the first time since 2002, if that’s the case?  McCown is a “fill in” guy.  Everybody knows it.  Everybody also knows he’s just filling in because Manziel can’t get his “you know what” together.


Manziel’s talents – are limited.   Limited size, limited strength and limited speed.  His arm strength is actually pretty impressive but that’s about it.  What made Manziel remarkable in college was his ability to improvise.  The reason why he had to improvise so much was because he held onto the ball for forever and danced around in the back field.  RG3 played that way and he’s already at the point where the stadium in Washington holds their breath every time he gets bumped or falls.

If anybody ever had to study and be silent when in film study – it’s Johnny Manziel.  When you don’t have the God-given size and strength to play the game, you have to work harder than the next man to prove yourself.  Especially when you have types that are physically and more naturally gifted than you in the league like Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, who have those gifts and still put in the work.

The question is:  Will Manziel put in the work?

Let’s be honest.  If there was a poll of 100 people who had to answer that question anonymously – at least 80 people will say : “no.”


Manziel would’ve been better suited staying in college for four years and becoming a college legend.  He could’ve stayed partying and improvised all he wanted and along the way could’ve kept A&M in SEC contention – remember he was that good in college.  Now in the NFL, he isn’t looked at in the locker room as a savior to a franchise.  He’s looked upon as a punk kid – and if not a punk kid – a spoiled brat.

Manziel’s “celebrity” exceeds anything he can bring to the table at the moment.  If you google the name “Johnny,” you will see he’s the third name listed, under Depp and Cash.  We’re talking about a back up quarterback who looked like trash last year and committed himself for alcohol abuse.  That “Johnny” is the third most popular search on the internet.

Johnny may finally have some people around him who aren’t “yes men” or maybe he is finally seeing the light.  He’s not as busy on twitter lately (3 tweets in the month of June with his last tweet before those being in January) and even his nearly one and half million followers on Instagram have seen less of the rich kid’s partying ways.  These are small yet important steps for Manziel to work his way back to being a starting quarterback.  Although starting quarterback for the Browns is no great accomplishment.  It’s more about how he plays when he’s given that chance.  Then maybe we can care about Johnny Football again, but even then – even the most dedicated Money Manziel fan can see, that this ride may be over a lot sooner than some thought.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio