Johnny Manziel will start for the Cleveland Browns against the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday, this after missing the last two games for getting drunk. Many wondered if we had seen the last of Manziel in Cleveland, but one Josh McCown injury and one Austin Davis disaster later, Johnny Football is back in the starting lineup for the 2-10 Browns.
“The last off-the-field instance for Johnny Manziel, in and of itself, was it that egregious? Probably not,” NFL Network analyst and Super Bowl-winning coach Brian Billick said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “But given his history and where he’s been and his problems? Yeah, he’s earned the right to be sat down for what was a fairly innocuous event, simply because of what he’s done leading up to it.”
Manziel’s on-and off-field troubles have been well-documented – to the point where Billick has reached the point of no return with the 23-year-old.
“We know Johnny Manziel can’t play in this league,” Billick said. “That ship has sailed. Have they mismanaged it? In my opinion, yes. They should have started the guy from Day 1 and given him an entire season to find out whether this guy can play or not. I think they know that. I think that’s why they’ve used every excuse.”
Davis was 25-of-38 for 230 yards, zero touchdowns and two turnovers in a 37-3 loss to the Bengals last Sunday.
“If Austin had played even passably well last week, would we be seeing Johnny Manziel start?” Billick asked. “No. But Austin was pathetic. So now all of a sudden Manziel has learned his lesson, so now we’re going to play him – and we’re going to see him play in meaningless games. I don’t know what we’re going to learn about Johnny Manziel other than what we already know, which is that his abilities don’t translate to the NFL.”
Brandon Tierney, to be fair, believes Manziel has gotten better – and the stats back that up. But Billick is not a long-term believer.
“You can get better,” he said, “but are you better enough? Are you going to be a franchise quarterback? Are you going to be that guy in Cleveland who they traded up to the 22nd overall pick to be that guy? Maybe he needs to be someplace else. Because once you’re not that guy where you were drafted in the first round, it’s hard to then become the guy, particularly at that stage of where (you are now). We’re in year two with Johnny Manziel with every opportunity. You know when they took him, they had to believe he was that guy. . . . Well, that just hasn’t happened for a lot of different reasons both on and off the field.
“I don’t think he can play in the NFL,” Billick continued. That’s just my perspective. I think Cleveland’s worst nightmare in these next four games (is if) he looks okay and you convince yourself that, ‘Okay, he’s fine, he’s over the hump, this is our guy.’ Because if you do and you keep him, you’re just going to get the next coach fired.”