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Johnny Manziel's off-field issues remain paramount in Browns' minds

BEREA, Ohio -- There was another one of those "That's so Browns" moments on Thursday.

And this one happened, like most, completely unintentionally, while a coach was graciously addressing some uncomfortable issues and answering some uncomfortable questions.

On this final day of 2015, a coach who by his own admission isn't sure he'll be back in 2016 addressed the future of a quarterback who also might not be back.

Mike Pettine discussed with blunt honesty the doubt about his future as well as the issues with Johnny Manziel, whose season will end with him sidelined due to a concussion.

Pettine shrugged off the drama and incessant attention Manziel brings, saying it's part of coaching to handle different personalities and drama.

He did not, though, dismiss concerns that Manziel's off-field life could very well affect the quarterback's long-term football life.

Pettine admitted to problems and said that until Manziel is whole as a person off the field he can never reach his potential on the field.

This is hardly an earth-shattering stance.

It was simply honest. And Pettine has been as consistent this past month as he was in his first month, talking about the Browns from a short- and long-term view -- even if he's not sure he'll be here past Sunday.

It's tough to really know the Browns' big-picture view of Manziel. Short of the owner being completely enthralled with him, it's also tough to know where Manziel will be in 2016.

If Jimmy Haslam decides he wants to keep Manziel, he will stay -- with all his foibles and drama -- and Haslam will hire a coach who will run the gimmicky read-option offense that might allow Manziel to have more success.

Haslam, though, has insisted that football decisions are made by football people.

The on-field challenge of keeping Manziel is obvious. Manziel helped the offense with his running in Kansas City last week, but it led to him missing the season finale with a concussion.

"The more you run as a quarterback and you try to make plays with the ball below your shoulder when it’s tucked away and you’re trying to gain yards, the more hits you’re going to take," defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil said. "There are only so many hits quarterbacks can take in this league before something’s going to happen."

Manziel ended his second season with a 79.4 passer rating, which is good only when compared with his 42.0 rating as a rookie. He beat the 49ers and Titans, teams that have seven wins combined. He struggled against the Steelers, Bengals, Chiefs and Seahawks.

The most glaring number? He completed 57.4 percent of his passes, which places him 33rd in the league. And those numbers came when most said he progressed as an NFL quarterback.

Evidently, progress is measured in different ways for different players.

Even with the progress, though, Manziel's off-field issues remain. Pettine made that clear.

The Browns have much to discuss as they look forward. It starts with the identity of the coach and continues right through the future of their young quarterback.