Saturday, February 20, 2016

What Does it Mean to be the "Face of the Franchise?"

Manziel is gone, but Josh McCown is not necessarily the new Face of the Franchise either.  

    If you have fantasies of being an NFL General Manager, this is your time.  The off season is upon us!
    My team, the Cleveland Browns, is in the market for a quarterback again.  Last year we had terrible run defense, and couldn't run the ball effectively either.  The cure for that is always to fire the Coach (check!) and to sign or draft a new quarterback.  
     Browns fans usually figure that the only way to get a good quarterback is to draft one with the first pick in the NFL Draft. This year we may have a shot at the top quarterback unless the Tennessee Titans concoct a massive trade.  So there is much ado about arm strength, 40 yard dash time, INT percentage and so on.  But what about being the "Face of the Franchise?"  
     I think that is very real.  It's about selling tickets and projecting the right image in the media, to be sure.  But the most important aspect is the ability to convince players to play for your team.  
    Supposing there is an All-Pro free agent wide receiver.  Do you suppose he will gladly come to a team that has Johnny Manziel for a quarterback?  Well, if the receiver isn't convinced that Johnny is going to be on the field, there is not much point in coming to play for Cleveland.  
     You need to have a quarterback that people can't wait to play for, based on the belief that he will be successful and make other people successful around him. And so off the field issues matter.  Any one event is not decisive, but players need to feel confident that the quarterback is stable, and that the franchise is stable and going to contend.   
       In the case of Manziel, even if he is exonerated completely and never has a drinking issue again this off season, there is zero chance we can convince players to choose our team.   So he's out, despite playing well on the field last year.  
      It's not just moral character.  I would say a guy like Sam Bradford, a tremendous talent who has had a history of injury trouble, might also be a poor Face of the Franchise.  It's not his fault, but if his injury history casts doubt as to whether he will be available or not, then his team is just not able to recruit and retain free agent players.  Conversely, Cam Newton gets a lot of press for minor misbehavior, but players know they are going to move the football, and they will definitely go to Carolina to play.  
    The best guys are still guys like Brady, Rodgers and Eli Manning; very stable individuals who throw for yards and touchdowns.          
    With the Browns, in my opinion  Hue Jackson becomes the face of the franchise.  I believe he has a lot of respect around the league and players will play for him.  As for McCown, despite playing at a very high level and winning great respect around the league, he will be 37 next year, and a top young player might not be willing to hitch his wagon to that horse.
     The Browns need to have a talented young quarterback, if not for 2016 then certainly 2017 and beyond.  We'll see what they come up with.  

Hue Jackson is the Face of the Franchise right now, rather than any particular player.   


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