Cleveland Browns Need To Police Gordon, Not Manziel
By Steven King
This space is getting to look like a part of the Bill Murray comedy movie, Groundhog Day.
That is, every week, we’re talking about the same issues with the Cleveland Browns. Why? Because they are of great importance – in a negative way. And until the team figures how to get it right on these matters, we’re going to keep bringing it up. Indeed, we’re going to be vigilant, because sooner or later, they’re going to reach up and bite the club in a damaging way.
Once again, the Browns, with their neckties continuing to be way too tight and their priorities about as misplaced as misplaced can be, are trying to take all the fun out of the Johhny Manziel phenomenon. while at the same time being asleep at the wheel when it comes to handling troubled WR Josh Gordon.
Team owner Jimmy Haslam admonished Manziel in public the other day, saying that the rookie quarterback gets it now and fully understands that he must behave better off the field. His comments are the result of front-office meetings solely to discuss Manziel and all his social media escapades. The Browns have front-office meetings to plan those front-office meetings about Johnny Football. That’s how thick the layers of angst are when it comes to the man they traded up four spots to take at No. 22 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft.
If Cleveland’s top brass – Haslam, General Manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine – are actually taken aback by Manziel’s behavior, then they didn’t do their homework on him. This is Johnny being Johnny. Get over it.
And the last time I checked, Manziel has not broken any rules.
Conversely, Gordon has apparently broken a bunch of rules. After leading the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards last year, he may end up being the leader this season in violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The Browns, however, have paid none – or at least very little – attention to that. If they had – if they had really, truly pulled out all the stops to try to keep Gordon out of trouble when they knew full well going into the offseason that he had a long history of commiting misdeeds – then maybe he wouldn’t be staring at a lengthy NFL-imposed suspension.
And oh, by the way, they were so derelict in their duties of dealing with the potential loss of Gordon that, with Clemson WR Sammy Watkins falling right into their lap at No. 4 like a gift from heaven, they bypassed him in the draft for whatever reason and instead traded back four spots to select Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert. The Browns crow that they received the Buffalo Bills’ 2015 first-round draft pick in the deal. Great. But what about 2014 and the fact that, without Gordon, Cleveland has the worst set of wide receivers in its history, and the worst in the NFL? Without Gordon’s ability to run downfield and make plays, the Browns will be unable to get opposing safeties out of the box, which will, in turn, stifle the running game on which Pettine has already said – several times, in fact – the team will greatly rely this year.
Maybe less – much less -- attention should be spent on Manziel simply being a young guy having a harmless good time with the ladies, and more attention spent on getting Gordon and the wideout corps straightened out.
But it’s likely that nothing will change. The Browns will almost certainly continue to smack Manziel on the knuckles with a ruler every time he dares let his personality come out, just as they will almost certainly continue to let Gordon, one of the brightest young talents in the game, slip through the cracks in a free fall.
What a shame. What a debacle.
And the Browns have only themselves to blame for it.
In fact, possibly the only guy who likes it is Bill Murray.