Through two preseason contests, Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel has been rather lackluster. His speed has become less of a threat in a faster NFL, he's struggling with his read progression and he hasn't displayed a great deal of accuracy.
Even though veteran signal-caller Brian Hoyer hasn't exactly been lighting it up either, head coach Mike Pettine's decision to name Hoyer the regular-season starter comes as no surprise.
Here's a look at both players' numbers, via SportsCenter:
Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel have both had a rough preseason. Here's how they compare: pic.twitter.com/4wye2PUO9n— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 20, 2014
While Manziel's play earned him the backup job, it's his inadequate level of maturity that will hold him back from effectively taking the reins of an NFL team.
We all knew Manziel would come with some questionable character traits when he was selected in the first round out of Texas A&M. The former Aggie came to the league with a laundry list of off-field concerns—the Browns knew exactly what they were getting into.
The off-field antics continued after Manziel was drafted. He spent plenty of time partying with other celebrities in Las Vegas—several unsavory photos surfaced as a result—and Pettine commented on his quarterback's recent activity, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
Said the coach, "I know as committed he is to football, once the season starts, it should not be an issue. People who know him have said it will stop."
Well, the preseason arrived soon after and it didn't take long for Manziel to slip up once more. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported the quarterback was late to a team meeting—leading to more speculation from fans and media.
Even senators began weighing in on the quarterback, via Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman:
Sen. John McCain on Manziel: "I just think he's gotta grow up…" Senators now checking in on Manziel. http://t.co/NomvYeEMFV— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) August 21, 2014
Those issues aren't exactly flattering, but they're not indicative of an NFL starting quarterback's behavior.
The worst was yet to come.
Off-field antics can generally be circumvented by stellar behavior on the field. During Cleveland's Week 2 preseason contest against the Washington Redskins, Manziel proved he can't control himself there, either.
In the third quarter of the team's Monday Night Football contest, Manziel was captured gesturing toward the Redskins sideline with his middle finger after taking some ribbing from some of Washington's players.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported the quarterback was fined $12,000 by the league as a consequence:
Browns QB Johnny Manziel was fined $12,000 for flipping bird at Redskins bench Monday night, per league source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 22, 2014
Manziel has been known to be rather hot-headed during games, and his action in that preseason contest proved he hasn't progressed one bit from his days in College Station.
If Manziel continues this immature nature on the field, how could he possibly ever earn the trust of his head coach? Or, perhaps more importantly, how could he keep the locker room together in the face of adversity?
The Browns have been a team plagued with dismal seasons for quite some time. Cleveland has made only one playoff appearance in the last 15 seasons and won more than seven games just twice in that span. Manziel will face adversity when he eventually winds up under center—and that's a scary situation.
Cleveland needs a leader to turn the tide. As long as Manziel continues his current behavior, he cannot be considered a legitimate starter. Hopefully, some time on the bench will help bestow some wisdom upon the rookie.