BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Johnny Manziel’s season is over but his work as a professional continues.
Manziel, who was placed in the NFL’s concussion protocol on Wednesday, has been ruled out for Sunday’s season finale against Pittsburgh, ending his second NFL season.
While Manziel showed signs of promise and development on the field this season, he remains quite the distraction off of it and that is something that the Browns and head coach Mike Pettine would like him to work on in 2016.
Call it a New Year’s resolution.
“Here is a guy that has an NFL skillset. He’s very talented,” Pettine said. “If you spend some time with him, he’s a likeable guy. You root for him, but there are problems there. We’ll talk as we’re headed to the offseason about getting addressed to make sure that, I said this before, we want to make sure that all of our places are grounded or in good shape as people first, players second.
“I don’t think you can be as effective as you can be as a player if things aren’t right off the field and he’s a good example of that.”
Manziel spent 10 weeks in a rehab facility from late January to mid-April where he received unspecified treatment but after a relatively quiet offseason he became quite the distraction during the season.
In mid-October Manziel was pulled over by Avon police following eye-witness reports of reckless driving in I-90 that also included an argument with his girlfriend. No arrests were made or charges filed but the incident prompted an NFL investigation.
Manziel was named the starter for the final 6 games on Nov. 17. He went to Austin, Texas to celebrate for the bye week, partied and then lied to the team about a video that went viral prompting Pettine to bench him for 2 games.
Week in and week out Pettine has to answer more questions about Johnny drama.
“It’s one of the challenges of coaching,” Pettine said. “Every year that I’ve been in the league, there’s drama on every football team. It varies in scope and the amount of it, but I don’t see it that way. I see it as it’s a challenge to us as coaches.”
Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and the Browns have made it no secret that they would like to see Manziel start to make better decisions off the field.
“I think your teammates need to see you doing the right thing as well,” DeFilippo said. “That’s part of the position. It’s a lifestyle. I’ve talked about that a bunch. Playing quarterback in this league is a lifestyle. You need to eat, sleep and breathe football. I think we made strides in that department. I don’t want to say we’re there all the way.”
Cornerback Joe Haden, who is a close friend of Manziel, said that the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner has yet to understand that extra scrutiny comes with the job description of being a starting quarterback in the NFL and he must adapt and act accordingly.
“It means that you might not be able to do what you want to do sometimes, you are the face of the franchise,” Haden said. “You are a professional quarterback in the league and sometimes it might not be fair the way you are treated, even when you think you are doing normal things that everyone is doing, but you are held to a different standard.
“I love Johnny, but he has to realize that he is not everyone else.”
Regardless of impending changes, Manziel’s off the field behavior leaves too many questions for a franchise searching for stability and an identity – and the one he give them is not one to be proud of.
“I think he’s shown on the field that he can be, but we always talk in terms of long-term sustained success and that’s what you want to strive for,” Pettine said. “If things aren’t right off the field, that’s very difficult to have that level of consistency, especially when you’re in a position of leadership.”
Manziel has a propensity to have himself filmed by cell phones drinking and singing. Although not illegal, it is a terrible look for a young unproven player who has also had to be treated for unspecified reasons.
League rules limit the amount and type of contact the team can have with Manziel and although they won’t recommend that Manziel returns to rehab, they hope that he is more mindful of his off-field behavior and how he presents himself.
“When the desire is there to want to get it changed and want to be better, hopefully, you’ll have a good result,” Pettine said.
As for Sunday, third-string QB Austin Davis will start in Manziel’s place, marking the fourth consecutive season that the Browns are forced to field their third QB.
Pat Devlin, who was with the team for a cup of coffee in training camp, was signed to back up Davis.