Hoping that new Browns general manager Ray Farmer finds a way to land the team’s quarterback of the future—Johnny Manziel
As Jimmy Haslam shuffles around the nameplates on the offices in Berea once again, Browns fans are left scratching their heads, arguing with friends, and wondering what all these changes really mean. Some will argue this is exactly the move Haslam needed to make. The coaching search led by Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi turned the franchise into an even bigger laughing stock around the league—more so than it already was. The details are largely unknown, but it sure looked as if the Browns had to hit page down a few times on their list of candidates before inking Mike Pettine to be the third Browns head coach in a little over 365 days. The league-wide sentiment towards the Banner-Lombardi regime was that the duo was “toxic”, which, I suppose, makes Haslam’s urgency to replace two-thirds of the infamous Three Stooges of little surprise.
Unlike Banner and Lombardi, their replacements Alec Scheiner and Ray Farmer are two highly regarded up and comers in the world of NFL executives. Farmer, of course was a front-runner for the Miami Dolphins’ GM job this off season before opting to stay in Cleveland; Scheiner was brought over from Dallas after playing a integral role in the business side of getting Jerry Jones’ jewel of a stadium built. It’s nice to have respected and promising executives in the front office, but guys in suits aren’t the ones that get fan bases all revved up, that comes from the guys in helmets and shoulder pads.
Though the scouting combine is quickly approaching, the free agency period will provide the first test for Farmer and the Browns front office as they look to add impact players, provided a chance to enhance the roster with over 45 million in cap space. Judging by Haslam’s win now demeanor, one can expect the Browns to be aggressive targeting free agents, but the reality of the situation is until this team has a quarterback, fan expectations and excitement will be tempered. With there being a lack of free agent quarterbacks in this year’s class, at least those who can be deemed as a clear upgrade over the de facto starter, Brian Hoyer, all signs point to the draft as the first chance for Ray Farmer and his staff to distinguish themselves from Stooges of Jimmy’s past.
This draft, as you may have heard, carries nothing in the way of an Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin; there isn’t a “can’t-miss prospect” to save the Browns’ quarterback woes. But this draft does have something no other draft since ’99 has had, and his name is Johnny Football. Fans of the Browns have seen enough of the Brandon Weedens, Colt McCoys, and Brady Quinns of the world to refrain from being enthralled by the idea of drafting a Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles, but if Ray Farmer and his staff can land Johnny Manziel on draft day they’ll give Browns’ fans a guy unlike anything seen in Brown and Orange since 1999—or perhaps ever.
Manziel is a supernova exploding in a sky of already brightly shining stars. He’s not just another football player, another Heisman trophy winner, or another quarterback prospect. He’s different. He’s Johnny Football.
He has moxy. He has swagger. He has creativity. He has the intangibles that you desire in a quarterback, and is already beloved in NFL locker rooms.
“I promise, you have no idea how many fans that kid has in NFL locker rooms,” Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk told The Dave Dameshek Football Program podcast back in September. “We love watching that guy play.”
We’ve seen what it can do to a team as they sour on their starting quarterback, but imagine having a guy behind center who players love playing for and with.
He doesn’t have prototypical size, nor does he have a conventional style, but he’s a magician on the football field. He uses his creativity, swagger, and athleticism to leave your jaw hanging on the floor. Whether or not he has a long, successful career in the pros is impossible to predict, but I am certain he is not Brandon Weeden, Colt McCoy, or Brady Quinn.
Manziel is the guy who went into Tuscaloosa to take the customary beating Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide put on opposing offenses, but instead, he scorched the future national champions and created one of the most iconic “Heisman moments” of all time as he ran into the back of his offensive line, bobbled the football, then dipsy-doo’d out of pressure to his left, and delivered a touchdown strike in the back of the end zone. No one goes into Nick Saban’s house, kicks his dog, and walks away with his booze, but Johnny Manziel did.
He’s electric, he’s buzz worthy, he’s trendy. No, those aren’t the three qualities you want most out of quarterback, but with Manziel on the roster, he immediately puts the Browns in the mainstream. Ray Farmer and Alec Scheiner may seem much better than Mike Lombardi and Joe Banner here in January, but the truth is until the Browns win games they’re just different nameplates on the very same doors. The Browns can’t officially get into the win column until September 7, but landing Manziel on draft day will put a Texas-sized bow on what has been messy charade of an off season.
“I think that regardless of what the player is, who the player is or what position he plays, I’ll make the right decision,” said Farmer of the impending NFL Draft. “I’m definitely going to be aware of how the coaches feel, I’m going to be aware of how the scouts feel, and I’m going to be aware of how I feel. I’ll mesh those opinions, as well as the other ones we have, to make the right decision on who the quarterback should be going forward.”
Ray Farmer wants to reinvent the history books? He can take the first step in doing so by calling Manziel’s name on Thursday, May 8.