To succeed, Manziel must fail first

League insiders think he could flash early -- and that could be a problem

Originally Published: August 19, 2014
By Mike Sando | ESPN Insider

LANDOVER, Md. -- First-year Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine found himself standing in a cramped interview room at FedEx Field on Monday night, answering a question about how potential franchise quarterback Johnny Manziel flipped off the Washington Redskins' bench in a preseason game featuring 21 accepted penalties, none of them for obscene gestures.

"It does not sit well," Pettine said.

At this point, there's really no way the Browns can justify pushing Manziel into the starting lineup for Week 1 after his play Monday night. "Disappointing" was the word Pettine used to describe the bird heard 'round the football world, but he could have been talking about his team's quarterback situation in general.

The Browns have ached for the energy and hope a dynamic quarterback pumps into an NFL franchise. It's what drew them to Manziel in the first place. It's what will inevitably drive Manziel into the starting lineup, even if Brian Hoyer becomes the choice to start heading into opening games against Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Baltimore.

And as hard as it might be to fathom after Manziel's 7-of-16 passing performance (for 65 yards) Monday night, there's been a line of thinking within the league that Manziel has the competitive drive and athletic ability to enjoy early successes. But there's also a belief that in the long term, that could be a bad thing for both Manziel and the Browns. Here's why.