Browns Get What They Deserve (Again…)

Geoff, what do the Browns do about Johnny Manziel?

You mean now? After they announced that they’ll keep him on the team but demote him to third-string?

No, I mean as of July 27, 2014– of course now.

Who cares? The situation is FUBAR; they might as well cut him.

Cut him now? Why? 

Why not? Thanks to some world-class mismanagement, they’ve just blown any chance to either (a) fix his career or (b) get anything in trade for him. I went over this after his last incident, but I’ll run through it again:

  • Mike Pettine’s statement makes it pretty clear that Johnny Relapse will not play another game this season.
  • In order to avoid a fan revolt, the Browns will have to draft Rufus Le Petomane (whatever quarterback Peter Queen and the Mean Girls decide is “Best Quarterback EVER!!!!!”) with their #1 pick.
  • They’ll have Le Petomane, Josh McCown as the veteran stiff who plays the first few games until Le Petomane starts, and Austin Davis as the developmental-type guy.
  • Since the Browns just announced that they intend to dump Johnny Relapse, nobody will give them a thing.

You can’t win a negotiation where you have no leverage. When you put a player on the trading block, you have two threats you can make to an opposing GM:

  1. “If you don’t give me what I want, I’ll keep him myself.”
  2. “Other teams want him. If you don’t give me what I want, they’ll get him.”

When every GM in the league knows you’re liquidating a player– that you won’t put him on next season’s opening day roster, even if that means you cut him– they lowball you.

They had two chances for avoid this situation. They blew both. Now they’ll be lucky to get a #7 pick.

What two chances? 

Chance #1 was when a month ago, when the police pulled him over. The Browns could have said “Alcoholics can’t drink– ever. Go back to rehab or we’ll cut you.”

Had they sent him back, it wouldn’t have spelled the end of his career in Cleveland. It would have happened after he played two game– the crummy relief appearance against the Jets and the good start against Tennessee. he had a rating on 99.7, a 3-1 TD-INT ratio, 9.1 yards per pass… The Browns could have pointed out that many recovering addicts slip (which is true) and say they hoped he could be back soon.

Instead Pettine held a press conference where he said “We don’t care if he fell off the wagon. We don’t care if he still has a problem. All we care about is whether he can play well enough to help me win games. We’ll let him play no matter how much he drinks…”

He didn’t say that.

Well, that’s the message he sent. I went over this many moons ago, in talking about Puff Gordon. An addict can’t be reasoned with. They don’t pay any attention to your words. Their first priority is maintaining the addiction– continuing to do whatever they need to do to maintain the high. They’ll say and do whatever they think it’ll take to get you to let them alone.

The only way you can get their attention is to act— to prevent them from having free reign. If you don’t act, then you haven’t done anything.

This was Pettine’s second opportunity to send him back to rehab and say “You can’t drink and be on my team!” Again, had they done it, it wouldn’t have closed the door. In the last four games he’s played, he looked good at times. At others, he looked like a rookie who has played 11 games and had eight starts.

A team could have looked at him and said “The QB rating is 88.4, his TD-INT ratio is 5-2 and he’s above the league average in yards per pass. he’s close to being the leading rusher and he’s made some remarkable plays. We’ve got extra picks– let’s take a shot and see if we can’t coach him up…”

When the coach benches him, saying that he doesn’t know or care when the guy plays again, it’s like hanging a “For Sale” sign around his neck.

Pettine had to act after Manziel was caught drinking.

No he didn’t. He’d been ignoring the problem for months. Why couldn’t he have ignored it for one more week? Johnny Relapse would have been playing hit third consecutive game against a Zone Blitz– with the opponent missing its starting quarterback and running back. He had a good chance to win that game, play well and to drive up his trade value.

Pettine warned Manziel not to drink.

And he warns his front seven to stay in their lanes when opponents run. He warns people not to commit dumb penalties. He warned McCown to get rid of the ball sooner. He warned people to pick up the blitzes. His offensive line isn’t playing that well; the secondary gets lit up.

Everyone else can ignore the coaches and still keep playing. Why is the guy you spent a #1 and #3 on– the guy you’re trying to either develop or trade– the only exception?

You think it’s OK for the player to blow off the coach?

No, but it was obvious that was what the player would do. To quote from my comment about Puff:

“Puff has spent nearly a decade doing what he likes and dodging the consequences. The life lesson he learned from screwing up at Baylor twice, Utah once, and the Browns four times is that he can dodge responsibility as long as he can play. Until he’s suspended for life, he’s not going to believe he can’t skate on this too.

Pettine telling an addict not to do something– and expecting the addict to obey– demonstrates that he doesn’t understand substance abuse and should probably not be a head coach.

Also there’s this: Pettine told the media he warned Manziel not to go drinking after he announced the demotion. He leaked that to justify his decision… because he doesn’t want to play Manziel.

Do you want to play Manziel?

Do you want to cut him? If I had my druthers, Jimmy Haslam (to repeat the story I’m starting to hear again) would not have ordered GM Ray “Snapchat” Farmer to take him with the first pick– and to trade up to make sure Cleveland got him, so the Browns could sell tickets. Cleveland would have drafted someone else.

But now that they have the sucker, I want him to either pan out or get liquidated for as much value as possible. Neither happens if the lame-duck coach benches him because he has some desperate desire to play Josh McCown.

If Pettine said “We’re sending Johnny back to rehab and we’ll be playing Austin Davis”, I’d approve of that. If they played Manziel until he was caught breaking the law– or playiong really badly– I would approve of that.

Eliminating his trade value out of pique– so he can play a 36-year-old never was?  There’s no way I’ll sign off on that.

 

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