His Coaches Don’t Trust Him, Why Would His Teammates?
The Cleveland Browns are now faced with the departure of their offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, making him the sixth OC in six years for the team.
According to an ESPN report released yesterday, Shanahan resigned, while quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains was terminated. The report highlighted the most intriguing aspect:
“Sources acquainted with the situation revealed that the separation stemmed from a disagreement with the front office regarding quarterback Johnny Manziel. The front office is inclined towards making Manziel the starter, whereas the coaches, as per the source, doubt their ability to secure victories with him at the helm.”
This development holds a particular fascination on various fronts.
It’s tempting to simply attribute it to the ongoing instability and the outward appearance of disarray in Cleveland and sing the familiar refrain of “Here we go again.”
At least at first glance, every piece of unfavorable news seems only to amplify that perception.
However, from a player’s standpoint, there are varying levels of trustworthiness in the types of information one encounters in sports news reports.
Player X harbors a dislike for player Y. Coach A is having an issue with player B.
The list of rumored conflicts goes on and on in various permutations.
There’s almost invariably an additional layer to these stories. Having been a former player, you have come to understand the need to approach all of this with a substantial grain of salt.
However, in the case of Johnny Manziel, this situation appears to be notably distinct.
Becoming an NFL talent scout quickly became one of the internet’s favorite pastimes.
With game footage readily accessible online, a wealth of statistics to analyze, and collegiate loyalties adding to the mix, there’s a diverse array of ‘informed’ viewpoints… including my own.
The spectrum of opinions from fans and NFL analysts on JFF has been vast:
On one end:
“He’s poised to revolutionize the game and breathe new life into a sports franchise and city whose hope was waning.”
On the other:
“He won’t even have a place in football in just a few short years, adding his name to the list of massively over-hyped NFL players.”
Following Manziel’s disappointing performances in late 2014, which played a part in the Cleveland Browns missing out on playoff contention, the probability of him being labeled a bust increased significantly.
Nevertheless, it’s crucial to remember that final assessments should never be prematurely concluded, especially when discussing a rookie.
In general, there’s still ample time for development and personal growth.
What sets the Johnny Manziel situation apart from other sports debates around the water cooler is that there is now confirmation from those with the most reliable information that Johnny Football is not considered reliable.
This extends beyond concerns about his ability to complete passes; it reflects a reluctance to have one’s career linked to his. This represents a substantial professional reservation.
In football, trust is paramount. Every individual relies on the person next to them.
In this case, Shanahan and Loggains, who were most closely involved with JFF over the past season, express a lack of trust in him.
Throughout an NFL season, coaches essentially share their lives with players.
The workday spans from morning to night, giving them a comprehensive view.
They witness almost every aspect, from how you handle criticism to how you process information and even how you perform under pressure.
If there’s a hidden potential, a glimmer of hope, these individuals will be the first to defend it against those who haven’t witnessed what they have.
Writers, TV analysts, scouts, fellow players, coaches, and executives all hold opinions.
However, when those most intimately involved in a situation express a clear stance with their professional futures at stake, in my experience, there’s hardly anything more impactful or credible.
In football, trust and genuine care for the people you play and coach with are essential for success.
It’s that personal commitment that drives an offensive lineman to exert that final effort to protect a quarterback.
When that extra ounce of dedication is absent, you’re left with something less than optimal.
Football is a game where you play and coach for one another. Without that, there’s not much left.
Cleveland finds itself in a peculiar situation, having lost Norv Turner, one of the game’s most respected veteran coordinators, followed by Kyle Shanahan, one of the hottest young coordinators, in consecutive years.
The Browns’ offensive coordinator role, given its recent track record as a transient stop, is now further complicated by its association with one of the game’s least reliable uncertainties in Manziel.
This places the organization in precisely the opposite position it needs to be in to change its fortunes.
The individual willing to tackle this challenge is likely either driven by professional desperation, which can serve as a motivator or may not possess the level of expertise the team has previously worked with, leading to unsuccessful outcomes.
Mike Pettine is a resilient and astute coach, but he finds himself in a difficult situation. Nevertheless, he has an opportunity to advocate for a better solution.
In my perspective, the best course of action is to initiate the process of relocating Manziel promptly.
It’s essential to cut ties in a professionally advantageous manner. Begin exploring the market for potential trade value and accept the best offer available to make a clean break.
The fear of facing embarrassment due to a mistake should not influence this decision; only those who are unwilling to move forward dwell on such concerns. Remaining stubborn at this juncture will only lead to defeat.
Opting to part ways with a poor investment early on, before it escalates into a catastrophic one that affects all aspects of the organization, is the prudent move.
I typically lean against hasty decisions, and while letting go of a first-round pick after just one year may seem impulsive, I don’t believe it is.
Nowadays, the evaluation process for draft picks (particularly first-rounders) is exhaustive.
Additionally, an NFL season is an all-encompassing experience. There’s abundant information available to make a well-informed decision, which, in this instance, points toward a change.
Indeed, JFF was a first-round pick, but it’s important to note that he was the 22nd overall selection, not one of the top picks.
There’s a significant difference in investment value between these two positions. Sinking an entire organization over the 22nd pick is not justified.
The Browns got swept up in the hype, a common occurrence. Perhaps Johnny Manziel will find his footing and excel as a football player elsewhere.
In the NFL, the quarterback position is the epitome of leadership in professional sports. This isn’t just about someone who catches passes, runs the football, or makes tackles.
It’s about someone who must lead a team of men. With each passing day, JFF appears increasingly ill-suited for that role.
I harbor no ill will towards Manziel, and I sincerely hope he finds his way and makes the most of future opportunities.
However, to stake the professional futures of everyone else in that organization on him, based on what he’s demonstrated thus far, is imprudent.
Kyle Shanahan and Dowell Loggains had the most firsthand experience, which they recognized.
This is the highest quality piece of information that the Cleveland organization will receive. If they choose to overlook it, they are setting themselves up for a monumental failure.