What Do You Do With a Drunken Player?

What should the Browns do
about Johnny Manziel, Geoff?

It doesn’t really matter.

What do you mean “it doesn’t matter”?

I don’t know how I can make that any clearer. How about “It doesn’t matter.”?

How can you say that?
He’s a human being who needs help.

A lot of alcoholics need help. Why don’t we help Grover Manziel, whose father abandoned his mother– who then neglected him– who dropped out of school in 1973 and currently lives in a cardboard box down by the flats?

Johnny Relapse is a millionaire twice over– his family’s money and what the Browns paid him. And if he heads back to Texas , he’ll have people willing to fawn on him, men willing to buy him drinks and women willing to sleep with him for the rest of his life.

Don’t pretend that you care about him as anything other than a former #1 pick who has shown potential this year.

So he’s a former #1 pick who’s shown
he has potential. What should they do?

It still doesn’t matter. The Browns future on this is set. Unless the defense and running game improve significantly– and Josh McCown doesn’t have any more games like they did last week– the 2015 Browns will have a worse record than the 2014 team. They’re already in danger of finishing below 7-9; they’d have to go 5-5 just to match last year’s record.

The chances that they will lose more than half of their remaining games are very high. To estimate, let’s use a very simple prediction method: Has each opponent (a) won more often than Cleveland last year and (b) been on course to meet or exceed their 2014 win total? If the answer to both questions is “No”, the Browns lose. Otherwise we guess.

I have Cleveland winning one more game (Baltimore), probably winning another (San Francisco) and maybe winning two others (St. Louis and Kansas City). So the best-case scenario is 6-10, and it could go as low as 3-13:

2015 projection

I’m guessing Seattle will pull itself out of its slow start, while Baltimore will not. We’ll see if their teams spit the bit on Andy Reid and Jim Tomsula.

 Reid has five straight losses, but his last two have been close. Tomsula, as I thought, already has Defensive Coordinator Eric Mangini knifing him anonymously. He might go before year’s end.

If the Browns go 3-13 or 6-10, I can pretty much guarantee you that the Browns first pick will be a quarterback and the second pick will be a receiver. Everyone will scream at them to quit screwing around with defense or linemen and get some ‘playmakers’ in the draft.

Are there any franchise quarterbacks in this draft?

There will be once the national media opens the Chamber of Flatulence. We’ll hear about Rufus Le Petomane, the 7’5″, 350-pound quarterback from East Oshkosh State, who runs a 4.2 in the 40, has a vertical leap of 48″, bench-presses the team bus and once threw a snowball through a blast furnace without it melting.

Peter Queen will watch ten minutes of a game and pronounce Le Petomane the single greatest prospect he’s seen since Robert Griffin, Sam Bradford, Matthew Stafford or JaMarcus Russell. Presto: Franchise quarterback.

That’s pretty offensive.

Boo-hoo-hoo. It’s still true. Every year, dipstick fans and sportswriters hyperventilate over some guy who, often as not, busts out. They don’t reflect on their analytical failures and offer a public apology to the GMs who didn’t fall for it, and took better players (like, say, Mario Williams over Reggie Bush). The next year they just go back out and scream for this year’s model.

Right now the names are Connor Cook, Christian Hackenburg and Cardale Jones, but I guarantee you someone else can come out of nowhere.

Anyway, once the Browns draft Le Petomane (if that name doesn’t mean anything, definitely Google it), they’ll have him, Josh McCown, Austin Davis and Johnny Relapse.

Between the #1 pick, a journeyman backup nearing 40, a developmental QB you got on waivers and an underachieving drunk with an entourage, which guy do you expect to go?

Terry Pluto says the Browns
wouldn’t get anything for him.

Like all his “open letter” columns, he’s overstating it– and he’s also got the wrong reason. When every team in the league knows you have to move a player, they lowball . Jerry Jones or Rex Ryan will give you a #7; if Al Davis were alive, he’d take a shot. But your chances of doing better than you did on Billy Winn hinge on whether a team decides to hire Butch Davis as their GM.

So, given that scenario, it doesn’t really matter what the Browns do. Whether the send him back to rehab, suspend him or bench him and let Davis play when they lose confidence in McCown, the same sequence of events happens.

The only way things change is if the Browns win a bunch of games and someone plays quarterback well enough to make the fans and media think they don’t need one.

Can I get a straight answer if
I ask “What would you do?”

You mean, what’s the best way to get his life on track? That’s easy– send him back to rehab. Tell him you’ll still pay him if he goes. If he doesn’t, he’s suspended for the four-game maximum and you’ll put him under 24-hour surveillance and suspend him the second you see him eating Rum Raisin ice cream.

As anyone who knows anything about the treatment of addicts knows, it isn’t unusual for an addict to have a relapse– especially after a setback in their lives. They went through treatment, it took– but when life handed them another lemon, they couldn’t make lemonade.

When the media begins digging into this, I’d bet a substantial amount of money that Johnny Relapse started drinking very recently. After week three, to be precise.

You mean when he lost the starting job?

Yup. Most addicts set a goal and a reward in their minds: “I’ll quit gambling and my wife will come back to me.” Or maybe “I’ll get gastric bypass surgery and I’ll start dating and get married.” The plan blows up, and they go haywire.

The dream here was “I’ll get sober, I’ll learn my playbook, I’ll be ready to play, I’ll win my job back and take Cleveland to the Super Bowl.” It went south, he starts having a few.

It’s been obvious watching him sitting or standing next to McCown that he’s pretty down.

It’d be very interesting to know when the girlfriend showed up. My nickel would be that he called her after the Titans game, inviting her up her to share his joy when the Browns named him the starter. She gets up here and Pettine demotes him… and they both drown their sorrows.

You’re not saying the Browns should
have kept playing him? 

No, As I explained repeatedly, if the players want McCown, you can’t force another guy on them– especially a guy who blew his first chance to make a good impression.

Also, as Terry mentions, to drink or not not to drink is entirely up to Johnny Relapse. The first thing you learn about any kind of treatment is that an addict is always looking for an excuse to resume the addiction.

Wouldn’t going to rehab end his season?

Depends on how long the place decides to keep him. That depends on how much progress he makes… which depends on how much and how long he’s been drinking. There are cases where it can just take a week or two.

If it takes him a month, he still has time to finish the season. It will probably take McCown until the bye week to lose his job. The team will be 3-7 or 2-8 and his stats will be back down where they always are.

What if McCown gets hurt?

Then you play the guy you just gave a multi-year deal to.

Austin Davis wouldn’t be a disaster. He played 10 games last season, started 8 and did pretty well. The Rams went 3-5 in his 8 starts, averaging 157 points. The Browns have more talent on offense than St. Louis had (every team does; it’s how Jeff Fisher likes it) and he would probably do better.

Davis couldn’t give you 40 points a game, but if the defense was playing well, he’d be a positive. He outperformed veteran Shaun Hill (who started the other eight games).

Davis’s big problem last year was that the Rams had a dreadful line, and he didn’t handle the pass rush well. But despite that, his TD-INT ratio was positive (12-9) and his rating of 83.9 was superior to Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, Nick Foles, Brian Hoyer and McCown. With better blocking and another year in the league, he could do better.

The Browns look like they’re gonna keep Manziel

Yeah, because Pettine and Snapchat are more worried about their jobs than they are about the player’s life. What if you send him back to rehab, McCown gets a concussion and Davis blows out his knee? You’re back to signing Tyler Thigpen or trying to get Rex Grossman out of retirement.

Or, God forbid, Terrelle Pryor.

Didn’t he sign?

Of course not. He worked out for New England, the Jets, San Francisco and most recently the Giants. A 6’4″ guy who can run a 4.2 (as he allegedly did with the Jets) will always get a look. But they don’t sign you unless you can play.

How can you allegedly run a 4.2?

The stopwatch says 4.2, but you don’t know if the guy using it clicked as soon as the gun was fired. It’s amazing how many scouts don’t know how to time people, know what a proper lift is or measure a jump.

So if Manziel stays in Cleveland, what happens next?

It doesn’t really matter.


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