AFC North Preview

On this episode of the Rich Sports Talk podcast let’s break down the AFC North this season. This is a division with a lot of storylines this season such as can the Steelers get back to the Super Bowl with their loaded roster? Will the Ravens rebound or will Joe Flacco finish the season on the bench in Baltimore? How will Cleveland rebound after an 0-16 season and could Marvin Lewis be in trouble with the Bengals?

All this and more on the latest Rich Sports Talk Podcast. Make sure to follow and subscribe for all the latest content.

 

Beyond Repair? Browns Already Looking to Move on From Johnny Manziel

Has Johnny Manziel become another mistake by the lake?

Has Johnny Manziel become another mistake by the lake?

Another day, another story about Johnny Manziel. After a fan was trash talking the Browns’ quarterback at a golf tournament  in Texas, Manziel reportedly threw a water bottle at the heckling fan in frustration. While I can actual see Manziel’s side of fans that cross the line and berate athletes, his handling of the situation proves the lack of maturity that continues to plague the young quarterback.

It appears that Cleveland, who traded up to select Manziel in the first round last year, is reportedly looking to move on from Johnny Football. It’s one thing to question if Maziel’s natural ability will translate to the field. Personally, I don’t think he will given his size, arm, and that his best success came ad libbing an offense at the college level. Best comparison would be Troy Smith from Ohio State with a higher celebrity status.

I can get why Maziel reacted the way he did with the fan over the weekend. Still, he should have the maturity to realize that he is already on thin ice with his off the field escapades and should either not go out to public events or bring a security detail with him. Still, even if Manziel can mature the bridge could have already been burned in Cleveland. Given the quarterback talent on the roster Johnny Football can he be the starter in Cleveland, but as a leader of men the question is has he lost his team?

Johnny has gone to rehab, but it remains to be seen if the party boy is truly gone.

Johnny has gone to rehab, but it remains to be seen if the party boy is truly gone.

Robert Griffin the III is the best example of a quarterback that has seemingly lost the faith of the players and coaches in an NFL organization. Thing is Griffin is a former Rookie of the Year and has been in the league for a couple of years. Manizel has only started two games in the pros and has made more headlines for his off the field antics then play on the field.

Look, I get it Johnny. You’re young and want a good time. But whether he likes it or not a quarterback is the CEO of an NFL franchise. Sorry Johnny, I don’t see many other star signal callers rolling dollar bills in vegas or throwing water  bottles at fans.

Can Manizel be saved? Of course. If he is willing to put in the work and be a mature adult he can be a successful quarterback in the NFL. I don’t see a star quarterback, but a serviceable starter is not out of the question. However, it may be best for Johnny and the Browns to part ways. There is just too much turmoil in the Cleveland organization to have a quarterback like Manziel. It’s like throwing gasoline of a dumpster fire.

Will the divorce come this season? Probably not. But don’t be surprised if the Browns decide to move on from Johnny Manziel sooner than later.

Quarterback Roulette: Where Will Top Prospects Land?

Jameis Winston: Round 1 Pick 1 winston-football-640

This pick has seemingly been locked for a long time. Winston has been the consensus top quarterback in the class and has been almost locked as the top pick for months. Barring some trade or a bold decision, it looks like Winston will be a Buccaneer. It makes too much sense. Tampa Bay has been desperate fort a franchise quarterback for years, Winston is from the Tampa area, the small market could help the media exposure around Winston, and Tampa has some great weapons on offense. With the state of the NFC South, it’s not that far-fetched that if Winston can play well from day one, the Buccaneers could compete for the division title.

Marcus Mariota: Round 1 Pick 2Unknown-1

The biggest question about this year’s draft will be where will Mariota go? Will he be drafted high or fall? Will a team trade up for him? Which team could trade for him? In this scenario I have Tennessee grabbing him here for one of two reasons. First, they need a franchise quarterback and Zach Mettenberger is probably not the answer. The other reason he could go here is that Tennessee could play the leverage game and try to trade him for more draft picks. Either way Mariota will probably be off the board sooner than later.

Bryce Petty: Round 1 Pick 19NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Baylor

Every year quarterbacks go earlier in the draft then projected. It is a quarterback driven lead after all and teams will be aggressive to get a quarterback before they come off the board. With two first round picks, the Browns have the luxury to use one of the picks on a quarterback while still getting a talented player with the other. I have Petty going with the later pick. Cleveland has made it clear that they are no longer sold on Manziel and Petty has the type of character make up a franchise would want at quarterback. Petty will need some time to sit and learn the playbook and with Josh McCown now on the Browns it has made it the perfect situation for Petty to sit and learn rather than playing right away. It also could give Cleveland the excuse to move on from Manziel.

Garrett Grayson: Round 2 Pick 6usatsi8192945

The Washington Redskins could be looking to move on from Robert Griffin III. However, they probably will not want to use a first round pick on a quarterback even if Mariota is available. In the second round Washington could take a shot on Garrett Grayson who has been battling Hundley and Petty to be the third quarterback off the board. Grayson has the size and enough arm talent to possibly be a future franchise quarterback in the NFL. While Griffin has more physical talent, the problems with his leadership and durability will have Washington looking for a possible replacement plan.

Brett Hundley: Round 2 Pick 23 UCLA UCLA (vs. Washington, Nov. 15)

Despite three different quarterbacks in 2014, the Arizona Cardinals were able to make the playoffs. However, with Carson Palmer’s health now a question mark the team needs a solid backup plan. Hundley could be the future starter in Arizona, and could be groomed in the meantime under Palmer. Arizona has the defense to be a contender but they will need a quarterback to get there. Hundley could be that option if Palmer is hurt again and Hundley’s skill set is perfect for not only this team but this division. With a division with great defenses and pass rushers, a mobile quarterback in the pocket is crucial. There’s a reason the NFC West has two of the most mobile quarterbacks in the league, it’s because this division has great defenses. Arizona needs a quarterback to get back to the postseason and Hundley is a great security blanket should Palmer get hurt again.

What NFL Team Could be the Dark Horse for Landing Marcus Mariota

Marcus-MariotaWhere will Mariota go? This has been the biggest question when it comes to the 2015 NFL Draft. At the moment, it is assumed that Florida State’s Jameis Winston will be drafted with the first overall pick. After that, the picture gets very murky.

Could the Titans draft Mariota? While the team does have Zach Mettenberger primed to take over the starting role, the Titans may feel that Mariota has more upside and better mobility to make up for Tennessee’s shaky offensive line then Mettenberger.

What about the Redskins? The Robert Griffin saga could be reaching its conclusion with Griffin’s option for next season counting for $16 Million  against the cap. The organization may decide that the once emerging star and rookie of the year has overstayed his welcome in the nation’s capital.

The Jets? Even though the Jets front office has been adamant that it will continue to try to develop Geno Smith, head coach Todd Bowles has said that the Jets will look to address the quarterback position in the draft. New York hasn’t had a franchise signal caller since Joe Namath and could feel that Mariota is their future franchise quarterback.

Even beyond those teams there has been numerous speculations especially that Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles, who have been wheeling and dealing all offseason, will try to move up to take Mariota even though Kelly denies this possible option. However, there is one team that people aren’t talking about who could be in the sweepstakes for Mariota’s services and has the ammunition to go up and get the quarterback. That team is…

The Cleveland Browns. Scratching your head? Let me explain. Despite the poor play at quarterback last season Cleveland finished with a 7-9 record and had a chance to make the playoffs. Cleveland is desperate for a franchise quarterback and thought that they might have found one in last year’s draft. Unfortunately, Johnny Football is now Johnny Rehab as last year’s first round pick has careened out of control.  While Cleveland still has holes at the wide receiver and tight end, the most glaring is quarterback.

While the Browns have signed Josh McCown
Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Brownshe is a stop-gap at best at this point in his career. The team has no idea when Manziel will be back and more importantly if he can play in the NFL. Cleveland needs a franchise quarterback to build around and has something no other team has, two first round picks.

Cleveland could trade both picks, or move one pick will keeping the other first round pick this year in a package deal to move up and grab Mariota. If they elect to keep a first rounder this year, and presumably give up high future picks, the team could use that pick to give Mariota a play maker. Would Mariota make the Browns a contender over night? Probably not, but Cleveland is in a better spot then people think.

Despite their tough division and poor quarterback play last season the team finished with a decent record. Mike Pettine has a solid running game and an underrated defense. Like Rex Ryan, we know that Pettine’s square will have a formidable defense. If Mariota can come in and make plays then the Browns could make a run at a division title as soon as next year.

Will this happen? It’s anyone’s guess. While it would make sense for Cleveland to move up, they may feel there are better quarterback options later in the draft or they still, I don’t see how, but still have faith in Johnny Manziel. Either way, don’t be surprised if a franchise that’s been desperate for a franchise quarterback decides to pull the trigger and move up for Mariota.

One thing we do know. It’s going to be an interesting draft because Mariota could go anywhere.

Why Johnny Maziel Pick Will Haunt Cleveland Browns

He has been a target for criticism over the past few years.

Savior? More like a nightmare in Cleveland

Savior? More like a nightmare in Cleveland

The persona that Johnny Manziel, or should I say Johnny Football has created over his college and early NFL career is incredible. It’s MTV meets Rudy with a pinch of fantasy. In terms of his presence in the media Johnny Manziel has been a complete success. It’s rare to see any sports outlet not talking about this lightning rod from Texas. In short, Johnny Manziel is Tim Tebow 2.0. Better player, same unnecessary attention.

However, Manziel is something different for Cleveland Browns fans. A symbol of hope.

In a franchise that has been built on futility and despair for almost 60 years, Manziel is a beacon of hope that the franchise has gone all in on. Unfortunately, this will be the biggest disappointment for the Browns since the original franchise moved to Baltimore in 1995.

What you say? How can you say that? It’s only been a preseason. Sorry Browns fans this is not the savior. Don’t get me wrong, I think Johnny can play in this league, he’s just not a player a franchise can be built solely around. If anything Manziel will be like a young Michael Vick. A player who on the highlight real will show off a great deep ball or a 50 yard scramble for a 30 second highlight. But he will never be a consistent quarterback in the NFL. One week he will light it up while the next week he will throw three interceptions. Great quarterback on Sports Center, not in a four quarter NFL game.

Why am I so sure, just look at this past few weeks. This preseason Manziel couldn’t even beat out journeyman Brian Hoyer for the starting job. Why? a 50 % completion rate magnified with errant throws against vanilla second teams defenses is not a good sign. Looking around the league it seems like every other rookie signal caller including ones that the Browns could have selected have outperformed Johnny.

Blake Bortles has played well enough to earn the starting job in Jacksonville, but ore importantly the quarterbacks on the board when the Browns were picking have looked much better. Derek Carr will start in Oakland and has shown off a big arm and the ability to move the football around the field. Teddy Bridgewater has shown that while he may need a little more time to develop could be a solid game manager and starter right now. Even late draft pick Zach Mettenberger has shown flashes in the preseason. Johnny? After a decent showing in the first preseason, the usually loud Manziel was rather quite over the next three weeks.

The other cause for concern? Did you see Texas A&M against South Carolina? Originally people thought that Johnny Manziel made coach Kevin Sumlin. Now we’ve learned it’s the other way around. In Sumlin’s offense sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill played his first SEC game on the road against No. 9 South Carolina. In his first game Hill light up the scoreboard with 511 passing yards and broke all of Johnny’s individual game records in his first start. Looks like Sumlin knows how to coach offense.

Sorry Cleveland, on the bright side Lebron James is back, but if you expect Johnny Manziel to be the football savior for the Browns, prepare for only more heartbreak.

Not in Cleveland

Browns fans continue to wonder what could have been?
Cleveland is still waiting for their championship

Cleveland is still waiting for their championship

For the city of Baltimore it is an exciting time as the Ravens will go for their second Lombardi trophy in their brief history. However, for the city of Cleveland it is a recurring nightmare that still haunts the ill-fated franchise. Before 1995 the Browns were known for their infuriating streak of bad luck. From Red Right 88, The Drive, and The Fumble were all constant reminders to the Cleveland faithful about their misfortune. This frustration boiled over after the 1995 season when owner Art Modell announced that the team would be moving to Baltimore. Despite their best efforts the team would leave town to become the Ravens and five years later were Super Bowl XXXV Champions. Even though the Browns were reborn as an  expansion team in 1999, they have been perennial cellar dwellers as opposed to contenders. Meanwhile the former franchise has been a model of consistency reaching the postseason for the past five years. What’s even worse is that the Browns coach in 1995 who was fired at the end of the season was Bill Bellichick. Not only has Baltimore won a championship, but Bellichick is the mad scientist behind the three Lombardi trophies that now reside in Foxboro. While I am not from the city of Cleveland I can only imagine what the city has had to endure. It is a city starving for a championship since no team in Cleveland has won a championship in over sixty years. A great pieces that illustrates this is A Football Life: Cleveland 95  which I highly recommend and  can be viewed by clicking on the link. Cleveland has been burned on numerous occasions from the Browns move to more recently Lebron James’ decision to take his talents to south beach. While the city still desperately tries to build a contending team it only adds insult to injury when the former Browns left town they were able to win a Super Bowl. Browns fans still cannot fathom how the football gods would give a super bowl to the Ravens before the Browns. I know one thing for sure, and that is on February 3rd the city of Cleveland will all be wearing 49ers jerseys.