By Alex Horowitz
He has never started a professional football game. He has thrown nine total pass attempts, only one of which was a touchdown. And yet when Johnny Manziel entered the game for the Cleveland Browns last Sunday, you would’ve thought he was the second coming of Peyton Manning, based on the reaction of football fans around the nation. “Johnny Football” is more so known for his off-the-field life rather than his football skill, but nowadays that is what captivates people; it’s like the whole Tim Tebow mania from 2011.
Sure, he was a Heisman award winner at Texas A&M, but even two years later he still is one of the more popular players in the National Football League. In this age of Twitter and other types of social media, our society has become fascinated with his “fun” lifestyle, for lack of a better term. While he parties frequently and has been arrested on multiple occasions, this should not impact his talent as a quarterback in the least; the hype has already been bought into though. Cleveland is strongly considering starting Manziel next Sunday versus Indianapolis, but they would be incredibly foolish to do so. Simply put, Manziel has not learned the ropes yet to succeed in this brutal league.
Normally, a young quarterback would need to prove himself over a fairly long period of time in order to win the starting job. In the case of Manziel, what has he done to boost his on-field resume? A 10-yard rushing touchdown started a comeback effort last week, but ultimately the Browns fell short. However, this literally was his only positive play of the season. The majority of his time has been spent on the sideline, learning the ropes from the coaching staff and incumbent starter Brian Hoyer. That’s not to say this experience is not beneficial, because there definitely is value in learning from a seasoned veteran. But the mental side is only half the battle. Having the ability to hit open receivers and escape pressure is an entire challenge in an itself, and one that Manziel is not ready for at this current time- no matter what the media or anyone else makes you believe.
Brian Hoyer certainly is not one of the top quarterbacks in today’s game. His 46.67 total quarterback rating this season ranks 28th among all qualified quarterbacks. Only a handful of signal callers are worse than him in that regard. He has not had much to work with though. His leading receiver, Josh Gordon, was suspended for the first ten weeks, and Cleveland’s running backs have posted the fifth-worst yards-per-carry average league wide. These excuses aside, Hoyer has led the Browns to a 7-5 start, which is the most important statistic of them all. His team is in the thick of the AFC playoff race, something even the most optimistic of fans would have been skeptical of months ago.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This will be a tough concept for Browns fans to accept, but unless they want to be heartbroken yet again, Johnny Manziel must continue to remain the backup quarterback. If the team decides otherwise, then another chapter of disappointment will be added to Cleveland sports lore. Unlike “The Drive”, “The Shot”, or “The Fumble”, this curse will be much more straightforward.
Alex Horowitz is a senior at Briarcliff High School and is an aspiring sports writer. As a lifelong sports fan, he has rooted for the New York Knicks, New York Mets, and Detroit Lions. You can follow him on Twitter @alexhorowitz3
By Jack Allen
The Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Philadelphia 76ers made a 3 way trade earlier this month. Minnesota received Anthony Bennett, Andrew Wiggins, Thaddeus Young and $6.3 Million. The 76ers received a 1st round pick, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Alexey Shved. And of course, Cleveland landed Kevin Love. Kevin Love for the last six years has been the face of the T-Wolves franchise, but now joins up with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in what the players are calling, “The Land.” Kevin Love has never played in a playoff game in his career and neither has Kyrie Irving. I can honestly say that I believe in LeBron and the Cavs starting five through the regular season to finish atop the Eastern Conference. When it comes to playoff time, will Kevin Love and the rest of the Cavaliers be ready? Due to lack of experience Im seeing a first round exit to possibly the Hawks, Knicks or the Nets. Each of those teams have playoff experience and aren’t projected to place at the top of the conference, but can compete with top teams.
As for the 76ers, I don’t think they are close to being a top team yet, and they’ll probably finish in the cellar similar to last season. They have a very bright future with young blue chip prospects such as Nerlens Noel, Michael Carter-Williams, and their latest 1st rounder, Joel Embiid. The Sixers will probably have the opportunity to draft another top prospect and only then will they be ready for a possible playoff-birth in a year from now. Looking at this season though, it’s going to be a rough time for Sixers fans as they watch their team struggle through their schedule in a deep rebuild.
Finally, the T-Wolves. With a completely new look, I already think that they’ll contend to reach the playoffs. It would mark the first time since the 2003-04 season that the Timberwolves were in the playoffs, when they lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. They likely should make the playoffs this season, led by the young guns of Andrew Wiggins, Thaddeus Young, Anthony Bennett, and Zach LaVine, in addition to Ricky Rubio. With a motivated and passionate fan base, the team is primed for a return to playing basketball in late April into May. I’m predicting that Andrew Wiggins will win rookie of the year and will be the leader of the team. Not once had they made it to the playoffs with Love, but with the core that they have now, the Timberwolves will be good for a long time in the NBA. They should start off the next few years in the middle of the pack with early playoff exits, but two seasons down the road they’ll be definite title contenders if they can keep their core players. I’d say that the Timberwolves were the real winners of this trade but it should be fun to see how it plays out!
Jack Allen is a writer for dabuzzza.com. He is a fan of the New York Mets, New York Islanders, New York Knicks, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Mariners, Queens Park Rangers, and West Virginia Mountaineer football and basketball. His favorite athletes are David Wright, John Tavares, Geno Smith, Allen Iverson and Charlie Austin. He is a very passionate and determined fan. You can follow him on twitter @JackAllen99.
By Brett Malamud
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Kingdom is restored. LeBron James has agreed to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers. The move was made official on Lebron James’ Instagram today. The Akron native LeBron has some unfinished business to take care of, as he never won a title with Cleveland in the seven seasons that he was there. He will team up with a championship caliber lineup that includes Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins. It should be interesting to see how the fans treat LeBron. The way he turned on the Cavs four years ago will not be easily forgotten by the fans. But I still believe that they’ll welcome him back with open arms.
All in all, the Cavs are back. And they’ll be better than they ever were.
Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy