The Cleveland Browns have had a much improved football season in 2014. Compared to previous, truly horrifying seasons, the Browns remain in playoff and division title contention with just three weeks to go. At 7-6, while the Browns could potentially still walk out of the AFC North with first-place, the odds are more in the Browns favor if they can sneak into the playoffs as a Wild Card.
But either way, they’ll now be trying to do this behind the rookie we all know and love (or hate) from Texas A&M, none other than…Johnny Football.
Johnny Manziel won a Heisman Trophy while with the Texas A&M Aggies. Winning in 2012, he was the first freshman college football player to win the award—ever. Following quickly in his footsteps was the likes of current Florida State standout Jameis Winston, who has a national championship, a Heisman trophy as a freshman, and a still unblemished, perfect win-loss record in his collegiate career.
That being said, Johnny Manziel has been waiting for his chance to get the starting role in Cleveland over former Tom Brady understudy Brian Hoyer. After Hoyer’s performance this past Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, which was nothing but malpractice, Browns head coach Mike Pettine has decided to trust his rookie.
And fans should love it. Here’s three special reasons that Johnny Manziel is about to make some magic happen in Ohio.
1. Confidence Is Key
Johnny Manziel likes to win, even better, he likes to make sure you know without a doubt that he’s a winner. His touchdown celebration is rubbing his fingers together in a sign that’s collectively used and acknowledged to represent money. He’s all about victory.
Remember, Manziel is the same quarterback that skeptics said early in his collegiate career would not be able to go into the Crimson Tide’s building and knock off the number one team at their place–he did it anyway. People said he wasn’t going to be able to stay competitive enough throughout a full season to win the Heisman Trophy–he did it anyway. People are beginning to doubt that he’ll be able to do good things in Cleveland possibly land the Browns in the playoffs for the first time since 2002, the year that they made it as a 9-7 Wild Card–he’s gonna do it anyway.
2. Other Rookie Quarterbacks Have Exceeded Expectations This Season
Just like Teddy Bridgewater with the Minnesota Vikings, Blake Bortles with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Derek Carr with the Oakland Raiders, Johnny Manziel is finally getting his shot at a chance to succeed with the pressure mounting and the spotlight on. In Minnesota, Bridgewater proved doubters wrong after taking over for Matt Cassel, and has given the Vikings the majority of their wins this season. And while it was too little too late for the Vikings to get into the post season, look for them to be a legitimate threat next year, especially with Bridgewater’s maturity rising.
With the Jags, Blake Bortles had a phenomenal preseason which stirred the pot in Jacksonville for the Jaguars to start their rookie right away. To the contrary, Chad Henne was named the starter and did an awful job. Bortles has been the lead man since Week 4 and hasn’t looked back since. The Jags may be 2-11, but saw great signs of improvement two weeks ago against the New York Giants when they overcame a 0-21 hole to win 25-24. Like Minnesota, they’ll be a threat next season.
Lastly, rookie Derek Carr got the nod over Matt Schaub in Oakland after impressing the coaching staff in pre-season appearances. Throughout their 2-11 season, the Raiders knocked off the Chiefs in a Thursday Night Football match-up for their first win in a calendar year and then this past weekend took their A-game to the struggling San Francisco 49ers in a 24-13 victory; one that likely ended Jim Harbaugh‘s tenure as head coach for the red and gold. The Raiders experienced a head coaching derailment of their own after losing former head coach Dennis Allen after a not so fruitful beginning to the season. Now that those things have been taken care of, Derek Carr could find himself under the instruction of Jim Harbaugh, a coach that’s made it deep into the playoffs during three years in San Francisco (including a trip to the Super Bowl). And that is going to be very, VERY dangerous.
Johnny Manziel, likewise, is getting his chance to prove his worth with a team that is in the driver’s seat of their own destiny rather than in the back seat. Don’t think Manziel’s up for the challenge? The line for the haters can be found outside the arena of logic. You’ve got another thing coming.
3. Manziel Has Weapons & Is Ready To Fire
All aboard! Josh Gordon is back on board for the Browns after serving a suspension for violation of the league’s drug policy (plus), Brian Hoyer has been benched and is out of Johnny Manziel’s way as a starter (plus), but the best thing that Johnny Football has in his pocket is the Browns’ win-loss record. They’re 7-6 in the AFC North as it stands right now. And if things hold out like we’d expect them to, the division crown will not be able to be announced until the final week of play.
We know that Manziel loves drama–we also know that he loves the record books. If this season with the Cleveland Browns, all three or more games that’s left of it, it will be one to remember…forever. Even if the Browns somehow don’t make the playoffs, they’ll have next season to get a lot more out of their star quarterback. We know that Gordon will most likely stay with the Browns for a while longer, especially if they continue to pay him well and they remain contenders and not pretenders.
But Manziel might end up where the money’s at, and if Cleveland fails to provide him with spectacle, we may see Johnny Football in another uniform soon.
But hey, we could say the same thing about Hoyer, who I promise you won’t be back with the Browns next season.
Time to enjoy the ride.