elftat

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Last year: 4-12. Again. Without lookng it up I can tell you that the Browns have finished 4-12 90% of the time in the last 30 years of existence.

Acquisitions: Johnny Football Manzel, Jason Cambpell (addition by subtraction), Ben Tate, Donte Hitner, Miles Austin, Justin Gilbert

Departures: 10% of the citys year over year population, Brandon Weeden, Davonne Bess

Braylon Edwards award for most likley to fight LeBron James in a nightclub: Josh Gordon

Vegas Over/Under win total: It dosent matter take the under theyre starting Brandon Hoyer and theyre Wide Receivershave one hamstring left between the 5 of them.

Fan forecast by Cleveland Frowns:

When he arrived in Cleveland in 2012, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam wasted no time making clear that the NFL franchise he wants to emulate is the Dallas Cowboys, a team with only one playoff win in 17 years, but one that’s established itself as the best in the league at squeezing every last dime out of its brand. Since the end of last season, Browns fans seeking hope that their team might ever become anything more on Haslam’s watch than a low-rent version of Jerryworld haven’t had a whole lot to go on.

Most of this has already been pretty well covered elsewhere, so let’s put aside the fact that Haslam, entering his third season as Browns owner, is now on his third head coach/GM pairing. Let’s also ignore the historic laughingstock of a search that landed Mike Pettine in Cleveland, and the subsequent canning of the GM/President team that conducted that search. Let’s assume for now that despite that whole mess, and Haslam in general, and all of Browns 2.0 history since 1999, and all of Cleveland sports history since 1964 that Pettine and Ray Farmer are the best coach and GM the franchise could have asked for, and that they’ll each get a fair chance to prove as much. Free from the distraction of these memories, it’s easier to focus on the Browns’ path forward, which at this point depends in significant part on the idea that the Browns’ impossible 15-year-and-counting quarterback void will finally be filled by Johnny Manziel.

jerz

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For an unclear if not so mysterious mix of reasons, Manziel has emerged from the Texas football cult and college football industrial complex as one of the NFL’s biggest celebrities even though it’s far from a sure thing that he’ll ever be a serviceable starter in the league. A leaked Patriots scouting report trashed his prospects, and former players now serving as analysts have about jumped out of their skin to do the same. One doesn’t have to be a pro, anyway, to understand the concept of a system quarterback, or to know that history is littered with QBs who put up big numbers in college only to flop at the next level. And it’s probably worth noting that Manziel’s only win over a ranked team last season came against Duke, and last weekend his replacement at Texas A&M, Kenny Hill, a sophomore starting in his first college game, broke Manziel’s single-game passing record against a South Carolina defense that was expected to be one of the best in the nation.

Johnny Swan

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Of course, compounding the on-field questions about Johnny is the fact that it’s hard to remember an athlete who’s burst onto the scene with such a flair for generating headlines about substance consumption. Manziel came to Cleveland with a reputation for partying that might be expected from any young football player with as much fame and money. From there he set fingers wagging by jetting to Vegas pretty much every weekend of minicamp, causing Ray Farmer to explain in late May that it’s a big part of what makes him so great:

“He’s almost like the Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth throwback in that he’s your guy’s guy,” Farmer said. “When you see him, he’s having fun, he’s partying, he’s doing his thing. He’s a little bit of everywhere. I think people are just attracted to the fact that not only does he make plays and he’s a really good athlete and a really good player, but he lives life. I think the live life side of it is what brings everybody circling back to who Johnny Football really is.”

Perhaps emboldened by his GM’s support, Johnny proceeded to step it way up by proceeding to be photographed in Austin, trashed, floating with a champagne bottle on a giant inflatable swan; then in the glorious “money phone” video, trashed, explaining that “he can’t hear you because there’s too much fucking money in his hand”; then in a Vegas bathroom, presumably not sober, with a rolled up twenty-dollar bill in his hand (“making an antenna for his money phone,” according to one PFT commenter). And there was also this, which might as well be the headline of everything ever from here on out:

Johnny Bieber 1

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Johnny Bieber 2

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So it probably is this idea that Manziel could become the first “Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth throwback” to succeed as an NFL quarterback in the last half century that so infuriates haters like Boomer Esiason (“his ass would be driven into the ground … I’m telling you, other teams hate this guy”) and Merrill Hoge (“this will be the saddest, quickest ending we have seen in quite some time … like Tim Tebow”).

But Clevelanders love him, even after the money phone video, because we’re nothing if not temporarily embarrassed millionaires here. Of course, we’re also as desperate as could be for the slightest hint of a promise that a “Browns renaissance” could be underway. The preseason crowds at First Energy Stadium naturally exploded every time Johnny hit the field, which was all well after Pettine announced that Cleveland native Brian Hoyer would be the starter.

Anyway, love him or hate him, it’s clear enough that Manziel is the walking embodiment of a quarterback controversy, a lightning rod that sucks the oxygen out of every space he enters, and someone on whom a legitimate organization would have never spent a high draft pick unless it was sure he was going to be a star on the field. As for the Browns, they passed on Johnny with their first first-round pick, but when he fell to #22, he sent them a text message. Quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains explained:

“We’re sitting there [on draft night] and they keep showing Johnny on T.V., and Johnny and I are texting and he shoots me a text and he says, ‘I wish you guys would come get me. Hurry up and draft me because I want to be there. I want to wreck this league together.’ When I got that text, I forwarded it to the owner and to the head coach. I’m like ‘this guy wants to be here. He wants to be part of it.’ As soon as that happened, Mr. Haslam said, ‘pull the trigger. We’re trading up to go get this guy.”’

Pick No 22

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The next day’s draft coverage was dominated by Darren Rovell segments about the Browns brand, exploding Manziel jersey and season ticket sales, and how “there’s [never] been a single draft pick in the history of the NFL that has galvanized a city from a financial standpoint as quickly as Johnny has.”

Rovellmanz

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So from day one, our owner who just paid a $92 million fine to the FBI to avoid a fraud indictment was assured that Johnny would help his pocketbook, at least in the short term, whether or not the quarterback ends up being any good. The brand and Browns fan’s hope have been leveraged to the max.

As for this season, fans are generally consigned to another 5-11 record whether Manziel plays or not. But the draft is only 246 days away, and we have Buffalo’s first-rounder, too. Would we draft a quarterback again, or do we have to pass because we already have Johnny? This is why we watch the games.