The re-addition of Lebron James to Cleveland took the circus of Johnny Manziel and escalated it into the most talked about sports city for these couple months. The fact the Browns are on ESPN regularly is all due to Johnny Football. Manziel has invigorated, and infuriated with his antics, a fan base that has been great for many years but their barks have been kept quiet by a poorly ran football franchise that has lacked talent since the team was brought back into the NFL in 1999. Since the re-inception of the Browns, there has been only one playoff appearance and two winning seasons in 14 seasons. Only the Buffalo Bills can claim a longer playoff drought than Cleveland but at least the Bills have been competitive on a year-in and year-out basis since the turn of the century. But hope and excitement has sprung eternal with the addition of Manziel in Cleveland.
Manziel brings a very flashy, look-at-me bravado to a city that is old and run down. Cleveland may rock to Drew Carey and the handful of people that really love the city, but most people claim to be from a suburb of Cleveland rather than the city. Manziel put Cleveland on the map again and Lebron made it a destination spot. Yes, you'll probably see Drake hanging out in Cleveland since he clings to the coat tails of the most popular thing out there but still Cleveland is a run down city that is only trumped by Detroit for large cities with highest percent of low income residents. But it's a city that supports their Browns and ticket prices (on the secondary marker) and ticket sales have increased since Manziel was drafted.
While Manziel is not yet the starter and there is an open competition, there is no doubt Johnny Manziel will be given a chance at some point. While Brian Hoyer may be the hometown good ol' boy and it's a great story, you don't draft a quarterback without the plan for him to eventually be your starter. Hoyer is limited athletically and makes bad decisions with the ball, i.e. interceptions, that plagued him while at Michigan State and have in his light NFL work. While Hoyer may start the season unless the Browns take advantage of one of the NFL's easiest schedules, the pining for Manziel will soon follow in Cleveland like it did for Tim Tebow in Denver in 2011.
So the question is why do Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow fit in Cleveland? First, Manziel's style of play is completely different than Brian Hoyer, it's more geared towards being able to use his athleticism to keep defenses on their toes and allow for the secondary to cheat forward to help contain the scrambling ability of Johnny Football. It is a style that is very familiar to Tebow fans. The Browns additionally have Tyler Thigpen and Connor Shaw at quarterback. Tyler Thigpen is a veteran that fits the bill of what Manziel and Tebow do as quarterbacks by opening up their passing game with the dangers of their running ability. So, other than Hoyer, the Browns have a roster set up to run a more "athletic" offense than what Hoyer is used to.
Next, the Browns are built to run and have a coaching staff that is set up in the same way. First year head coach Mike Pettine is a defensive minded coach that led the Bills in 2013 and Jets prior to that as defensive coordinators to Top 10 defensive rankings in each of his five seasons as a defensive coordinator. It is common knowledge a defensive minded coach likes an offense that controls the ball a ton and/or puts up big number so the defense plays with a lead and can pin their ears back. Additionally, Pettine brought in Kyle Shanahan as Offensive Coordinator and Dowell Loggains as his quarterbacks coach. Shanahan showed the ability to think outside of the box with his handling of Robert Griffin III in Washington. Dowell Loggains allowed Jake Locker to run the ball when the field didn't open up for a passing lane and prior to his injury, Locker had led the Titans to a 3-1 start. The only issue with both quarterbacks that these two men led and the question mark with Manziel and any system that is a read-option geared offense is: Can a player in that system sustain that sort of abuse at the NFL level? Right now, it's still inconclusive but with depth at a position, you can run the read-option system Manziel would thrive in without worrying what happens if he gets hurt. The 49ers sustained an injury to their athletic quarterback in Alex Smith and it allowed a Super Bowl run with Colin Kaepernick who was a more athletic playmaker. Tebow and Griffin III both made playoff appearances using running offenses that thrived on eating clock and not turning over the ball by using the quarterbacks rushing/scrambling ability to do so. The Browns will eventually go all-in on that type of offense and do the same.
So why do the Browns need to add the Jesus circus Tim Tebow brings with him? After all as many will point out, Tebow:
- Doesn't have good footwork
- Throwing mechanics are flawed
- Can't read a defense
- Favorite receiver is the ground
- Completion percentage is awful
- JUST CAN'T PLAY QUARTERBACK
No matter what I read and hear experts saying Manziel is not Tebow, they are wishing because Manziel is a slighter version of Tim Tebow with the same propensity to scramble and make plays first. He's not going to be a pocket passer. He's not going to be molded to be a Hoyer type. He's not going to put the team on his arm like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning but put them on his legs and back. It's what made Tebow dangerous when his lack of being able to "look like an NFL quarterback" got ignored and he was just allowed to lead his team.
So again, why should you pair Manziel and Tebow? The playing style of Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow is going to take double the punishment they did in college. There are at least four more games a season in the pros and the speed and violence is a whole other level than college where a gifted athlete can take almost take a break against the slower, less talented teams that the SEC schedules three times a year. So by having clones of quarterbacks, you allow your starter to take those hits and replace him for a series, quarter or game if they get injured. In this situation, your offense isn't devastated when your starting quarterback goes down as it is when you run one system and don't have a similar quarterback that can run it. Bringing in Tebow allows you to have three quarterbacks, with Tyler Thigpen, that can run the same offense without the need to switch offenses mid-season. Having Tebow would do two huge things, create an even bigger circus in Cleveland and garner more attendance and attention and it would allow Tebow to develop his game while being a back-up to Manziel. Tebow is what you want in a back-up quarterback as a coach, someone you can just say "go make plays and try to get us a win."
As you'll note, nothing has been pointed into bringing in Tebow to help calm Johnny Manziel's partying down or for Tebow to be his mentor. Tebow is not meant to be a babysitter and trying to calm Johnny will just make him act out more, as is proven with someone that pushes rules already. Tebow will force Johnny Football to focus on football and keep him from supplanting him during a game because Manziel is more focused on what he is doing that night. Manziel is the rich boy that has too much fun and is on the Todd Maronivich path with just expecting to have things his way. A hard working, good Christian boy that takes some of the attention off Manziel will either make Manziel focus harder or have no effect. One thing it will do is bring a good work ethic and love of football that Manziel shares. Tebow is filled with humbleness and maybe some of his humble pie can be fed to Manziel. No matter what comes of Manziel, Tebow makes for a good fit as a back-up to help if Manziel goes down and to bring in a player the league has only kept away due to two major reasons; his circus being larger than their own starting quarterback and a team's unwillingness to run an offense that differs from the status quo of the league. Cleveland appears geared to run an offense that is catered to Manziel with the staff they have and having another person to fit it can only help the Browns. Plus, Tebow's cult following can only continue to raise the popularity meter of Cleveland sports. It's time for Johnny Football and Touchdown Timmy to combine forces to take Cleveland to the promise land they have missed so often this century, the playoffs!