Tag Archives: Johnny Manziel

Josh Gordon’s Problem Isn’t the NFL’s Problem

The great Jay-Z once said: “What you eat, don’t make me shit,” and he said that to say – whatever you do to yourself, doesn’t affect me.  The NFL has a different way of looking at things.  The NFL feels, if you’re an employee of the league, you represent them, all of them – and they can punish you for things that you are doing to yourself if it affects the “collective image” of the league.

It’s kind of funny that the NFL wants to set a standard for this “collective image” when the players feel such a disconnect from their owners and the league’s overall hierarchy.  If they felt comfortable in that relative dynamic, there  would not be a need for a players-union.

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With that being said, the Cleveland Browns have become the hot-bed for substance abuse related suspensions in the NFL.   Most notably because of weed smoking Josh Gordon and heavy drinker, hard-party-goer and generally assumed drug addict, former quarterback, Johnny Manziel.  Gordon has just failed another drug test so his fate is pending and Manziel is currently unemployed with teams scared to touch him.

While realizing that alcohol and drug addictions are serious vices to one’s life.  Just how serious should it be in terms of “playing football.”   Alcohol is legal.  Marijuana is legal in some states, with over-zealous modern day hippies pushing for it to be legal in all fifty states.  So what’s exactly “wrong” in dabbing in legal and semi-legal vices?

Well for starters – the word “vices” lends itself to being “no bueno” and they’re not.   Who are we to judge though?  Sure we’ve seen town-drunks, heard stories about the drugged out or drunkard parents, but these are  adults, in their chosen career paths – doing what they want on their spare time.   The NFL though, has made it their duty to punish players for being victims of their vices – even when not on “company-time.”

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The NFL should leave it up to the team to dish out a punishment.  Why the team and not the NFL?  Because it’s the team, in this case the Browns, who hired the likes of Manziel and Gordon.  It should be up to the Browns organization to decide if their actions deem a punishment.  The Browns made their decision loud and clear in the case of Manziel by releasing him.  Manziel’s off-field nonsense included, partying, lying and even a domestic abuse case – it was easy to cut ties with the young quarterback, who for all things considered, would’ve been “marginal” at best in the NFL.  Josh Gordon on the other hand, he’s a beast.  One of the best wide-receivers in the league.  Do you really think a sorry-ass, lowly-ass, lower-tier-team like the Browns would want to lose their best player – over smoking some “kush?”

No.  Of course not.  But the NFL somehow has gotten the “right” to punish a player – quite harshly at that – for being addicted to marijuana.  Of course, if the rule is in place, the player should know about it and have the right state of mind to NOT do it – but we’re talking about an obvious addict here.  Sure, a lack of intellect or judgement can be thrown in the direction of Josh Gordon but is his “wrong doing” as equal as let’s say beating a woman, or relentlessly punishing a young child?  Or even in some cases, vehicular manslaughter?

No.  Of course not.

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If the NFL wants to seriously consider punishing players for marijuana use, they need to get the penalties right.  Josh Gordon shouldn’t feel like a woman/child beater for smoking weed.  He should just be embarrassed at the fact that his addiction is public knowledge and it should be up to the Cleveland Browns, to decide what to do with him.  It’s like being a big business owner and having one kick ass employee who helps you generate millions of dollars every year.  The only issue with this employee is that he sleeps with every new young intern your company hires and it causes some headaches.  Would you put up with the headaches and daily drama for the sake of millions?  Yes, of course you would (okay, you on your high horse who said “No, I wouldn’t” – go plant yourself in a room with your self-righteous bullshit).

For the record, I’m not an advocate of “legalizing marijuana.”  I’m just a guy who believes in the old saying “let the punishment, fit the crime.”  For Josh Gordon, being a member of the Cleveland Browns organization is punishment enough.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

NFL 2015: What We Learned and What We Can Expect

Every NFL season brings it’s own brand of drama.  It’s own brand of heroics.  And unfortunately for some of us, it’s own brand of heartbreak.  Now that the Denver Broncos have been crowned champions of the league, the ever important off-season is in effect.  Contract talks, free agent signings and rookie hype all start now and before we know it – Boom –  we’re back into a whole new swing of weekly heart-attacks.  Here are a few things we learned from the 2015 season, and a few things we can expect from teams in it’s aftermath.

What We Learned:

It didn’t matter who the Broncos had at quarterback this year.

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Let’s be honest, if the money that was spent on Manning was given to a better running back, their season would’ve had the same outcome, but without any controversy.  Broncos kept old-school traditionalist smiling by winning the Super Bowl, just so that crowd can say “Defense wins championships.”

Adrian Peterson isn’t human.

Whether he’s returning from a terrible injury or returning after being ripped apart by the media for a year – nothing can stop Adrian Peterson.  In his ninth NFL season, Peterson ran for over 1400 yards and doesn’t seem to have slowed down a bit.  One would think that his bruising style would slow him down but he seems just as fit as he did in 2012 when he ran for over 2000 yards.  Too bad the Vikings are continually in a rebuild.  They had a once in a lifetime player and came up with nuggets during his tenure there. . . so far.

The Eagles and the Browns Have No Idea What They’re Doing.

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So let me get this straight.  The Eagles fired Andy Reid, who in 14 years at Philly gave them six division titles and brought them to five NFC Championship games; to hire Chip Kelly who went 10-6 in his first two seasons and then fired him when he went 6-9; to ultimately hire Doug Peterson, who was offensive coordinator in Kansas City.  Oh, who was he the coordinator under?  None other than Andy Reid.  You can’t make this stuff up.  The term “ass-clowns” comes to mind when discussing the Eagles.  The Browns aren’t all that better.  Since 2001 they’ve had seven different head coaches and six different general managers.  They’ve whiffed on numerous first round picks, the recent being the “in the media for all the wrong reasons quarterback” Johnny Manziel.  Both of these teams have loyal fan bases who at any given moment might just rush the main offices in the same fashion as Black Friday shoppers rush a Wallmart.

The Dolphins Are Awful:

Their quarterback, Ryan Tannehill’s numbers should really be looked into because the majority of his damage is done in garbage time.  And when it comes to the Miami Dolphins, their whole season is garbage time.  They spent big money on Mike Wallace some time back – got nothing in return.  Now they spent big money on Ndamakong Suh – and they’ll get nothing in return from that as well.  They had building blocks for a good defense but had to let a lot of that go to sign Suh.  Does Marc Anthony still own a part of this team?  If so he needs to bounce on this team quicker than he bounced from J-Lo (or as quickly as he bounced on to J- ah, never mind.)

What to Expect:

Kirk Cousins gets franchised by the Redskins.

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Kirk Cousins is a free agent and after his ridiculously good second half of the season, he may have played himself into the sights of NFL teams needing a starting quarterback.  Jay Gruden has believed in him and the Skins can’t be stupid enough to let Cousins walk.  I’d hope. . .  Just to make sure it isn’t fool’s gold though, a smart move would be to pay cousins a big salary for this season and see if they can get more of the same.  It’s worth the gamble if he turns out to be their guy for the next 5 years or so.

Matt Forte Finds Life On a Contender and For A Bargain Price.

Forte is 30 and has a very flashy skill set.  He’ll continue to avoid contact to stretch out his career and he’ll have to find a system where he’s either well protected or will play in space.   The Bears have been overpaying him for years, so he’ll look less for a payday and more for a winner.   Expect  New England or Denver to be the most intriguing plays with Dallas not too far behind.

NFL Starts Losing Faith in Andrew Luck.

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It won’t be his fault either.  They re-signed arguably the worst coach in the NFL in Chuck Pagano and they continue to draft badly and sign free agents that make no sense.  The offensive line will continue to be a mess and Luck, feeling the weight of every game on his shoulders, will start to lose confidence as he’s throwing picks trying to play “catch-up” every week.

Panthers Trying To Get Cute.

The Panthers have been a gritty team under head coach Ron Rivera, but expect them to franchise or straight up re-sign cornerback Josh Norman, and expect them to sign a couple of flashy free-agents in what will appear to be an upgrade in offense.  The truth is, this is a tight knit group that works more on the chemistry around their super star Cam Newton.  Although with a healthy Cam Newton, the Panthers win this division by default it’s still not a smart move to stir this pot too much.

The Browns Will Blow Another First Round Pick:

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Poor Cleveland.  They just don’t get it.  If and when they draft either Carson Wentz or Jared Goff, it’s just a matter of time before they realized they just reached for another quarterback that will NOT lead this wretched franchise to the promised land.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

 

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.

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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.

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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. . .

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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. . .

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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

@GeeSteelio

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.

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“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.

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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.”

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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