Johnny Manziel has dealt with off-field issues since entering the NFL and is just trying to be the best he can be as the Browns come to Seattle to face the Seahawks on Sunday.
RENTON — With the uncertainty of projecting the future performance of athletes in any sport comes some comfort in comparison.
So entering the 2014 NFL draft, many observers looked at quarterback Johnny Manziel — 6 feet, 210 pounds, able to run like a tailback — and saw another Russell Wilson, at the time just a few months removed from winning a Super Bowl with the Seahawks.
Who knows? Maybe Manziel gets drafted where he did — he was the No. 22 overall pick by the Cleveland Browns — without Wilson having just proven that being under 6 feet was no barrier to capturing the sport’s most-prized trophy.
But as Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner said this week when asked if he sees a comparison between the two: “There’s only one Russell Wilson.’’
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And for now, Manziel is just trying to be the best Johnny Manziel he can be as the Browns come to Seattle to face Wilson and the Seahawks on Sunday.
That has been a tricky task, as Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2012, has been beset by off-field problems — including a stint in rehab this year for reported alcohol issues and an apparent relapse during the Browns’ bye week last month.
Manziel comes to Seattle, though, fresh off the most promising game of his NFL career, completing 21 of 31 passes for 270 yards in a 24-10 win over the 49ers, improving his record as a starter to 2-4.
It was a performance that for a day, anyway, gave some justification to the almost unyielding faith the Cleveland organization has shown in Manziel — a faith that some have questioned as possibly shortsighted.
Cleveland coach Mike Pettine, though, said this week that if others saw the Manziel he does on a daily basis, then they would understand the team’s position.
“Outside of the hiccup that’s been talked about way too much over the bye week, outside of that incident, his preparation has been very much on point,’’ Pettine said. “Whether he’s been the starter or whether he’s been the backup. Just go back to Week 1 when he was the backup and was very prepared to go into the game, Josh McCown led us on a 16- or 17-play drive and got hurt.
“Johnny played for three quarters, and we didn’t have to change or water down the call sheet. He was poised, he was focused, he knew what to do. He had prepared.’’
One Seahawk knows Manziel well — center Patrick Lewis, who was Manziel’s center at Texas A&M in 2012.
Lewis called Manziel “a great guy and great teammate’’ and said in watching film of him this week that he has seen a maturity in his game, particularly in his ability to move in the pocket.
Lewis said working with a runner such as Manziel made his transition easier to working with Wilson.
“They are very similar types of quarterbacks, and it kind of made it easier not really knowing where the quarterback is going to be from time to time and just taught me to block to the whistle,’’ Lewis said.
Seahawks coaches said this week what impressed them most in watching the San Francisco game was that Manziel stayed patient in the pocket and picked his times to run — he had 15 yards on seven carries.
“You might tend to think that because he runs that he’s jittery, but he’s not at all,’’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s solid in the pocket. If he’s got time, he’s going to sit there and figure it out.’’
As for the off-field stuff, Manziel said this week he promises to figure that out, too.
“Personally, I feel I’ve turned things around, had some opportunities to go out and step on the field this year from Game 1,’’ he said. “I feel like I’ve gotten better every snap, and every chance I’ve gotten to play on the field. It hasn’t gone as exactly perfect or exactly as I thought it might have, but I guess that’s part of the whole script. It doesn’t always go exactly as you planned it and moving forward and trying to make the best of the situation I’ve made for myself.
“ … At times, I’m sure (the attention is) a little bit overblown. I think at times, I’ve done it to myself and made it that way from going back to some of the college days. But I guess that’s just part of playing a position in my past. Fair or not, it’s the world that I live in, and kind of have to embrace it. Now it’s, ‘How do I live in that world and how do I make the best of my situation I am in?’ ”