Johnny Manziel was selected by the Cleveland Browns with the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, and his rookie season was an absolute nightmare. He started it off by losing a quarterback competition to Brian Hoyer, and then he failed to prove himself as a legitimate long-term option in the two starts that he did make late in the season. Add on top of that the fact that he was checked into rehab this offseason due to a problem with alcohol and partying that he has had his entire career.
During the 2014 season, he ended up throwing for a total of 175 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. He did score his first NFL touchdown on a 10-yard rush against the Buffalo Bills, but his quarterbacking skills were lacking in a major way. Not only did he play poorly on-the-field, he also missed a practice late in the season due to partying too hard the night before which concerned the Browns in a big way.
Perhaps the bigger concern for the Browns is whether or not Manziel can shake his off-the-field issues and get back to being a legitimate starting quarterback option. Is there any hope for Manziel to turn his career back around and become an NFL starting quarterback?
At just 22 years old, there is still plenty of time for Manziel to get his act together and make something out of his NFL career. Every single young player that has issues is looked at with major red flags attached to him, but there are always ways to getting through the issues. Entering himself into rehab was a huge step in the right direction for Manziel, as it was an admittance that he had a problem and needed to fix it to reach his dreams.
There are a few major keys that Manziel will have to take care of in order to get back to being a potential long-term option, but he can certainly get there.
First of all, his maturity has to improve immediately. The most important thing that a quarterback can have is leadership and maturity, and those are two things that Manziel lacked during his rookie season. If he can get those back, it goes a long way towards earning back the respect of his teammates, coaching staff and of course Browns’ ownership.
Next up for him to improve is his decision-making and understanding of the game. He looked lost at times during his rookie season, and the mental side of the game is extremely important for a starting quarterback. Manziel has to figure out how to control his head and make good decisions before he is ever able to act them out on the football field.
Finally, he has to improve his craft in both areas of his game. His arm could use some work on strength and accuracy, while he needs to pick and choose when to use his legs to make plays on the ground. Manziel certainly has the arm talent to turn things around and make the necessary improvements, but he has a lot of work to do in order to get to where he needs to be.
All of that being said, the obvious answer is that the second-year quarterback out of Texas A&M certainly does have hope left. He may have gotten off to a slow start, but he has also found ways to have success at every level he has played at so far. The NFL is a different beast, but by shaping up his attitude and working hard he will be able to turn his career around and begin to climb his way back to relevance in Cleveland.