Thread: Manziel
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Old 02-25-2014   #2602
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Default Re: Manziel

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Setting The Record Straight On Johnny Manziel

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CLOSING ARGUMENT

I understand Manziel’s flaws causing pause when evaluating him. Just like Tony Romo, who I think is closest to Manziel as a passer and decision-maker, Manziel will have a few turnover fests. He’ll have game-ending turnovers, and he’ll frustrate his fanbase by not being conservative when the game calls for it. Like Vick, he may miss some games due to injury because of his playing style. Like Kaepernick, he’ll have some games early in his career where good defenses can cut some of his favorite strategies off at the pass and force him to re-trench elsewhere in his game with mixed results.

None of these quarterbacks are failures. None were out of the league after five years, or destined to be backups.

Manziel’s calm, aggressive, and quick thinking and acting on the field will translate to the NFL. Last time I watched an NFL game, there were a lot of plays that forced a quarterback to function outside of the structure of a play. Being able to excel outside of the pocket, or when moved off of a launch point is a big part of winning at quarterback in the NFL. I understand the view that Manziel will have to do more than that, but holding his ability to do that against him in his evaluation, as if it is the ONLY way he wins is just plain false. The reality is that he has already demonstrated elite ability in one of the key areas that sink many quarterbacks who are very good when the play goes exactly as designed. This is a positive, not a negative.

Another factor is working against the prediction of Manziel as a failure. NFL offenses are merging with “college” offenses in their willingness to incorporate more concepts seen at the college level. NFL offensive coordinators today are much more willing to craft offensive gameplans to accentuate the strengths of their quarterback instead of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. In addition, the team that takes Manziel will be one that actually likes his playing style. That increases the likelihood that they will design an offense that naturally fits Manziel’s ability to extend plays and be a threat as a runner. Let’s also remember that he just turned 21 in December and showed marked improvement between his freshman and sophomore years. This is inconvenient if an NFL projection of Manziel includes the assumption that he will not evolve in the pros a la Michael Vick - although Vick was able to turn the tools that made him a dominant college quarterback into a very good NFL career. Vick basically represents Manziel’s floor in the NFL.

The poles in the relative possibilities of what lies ahead of Johnny Manziel are not nearly far apart as the poles in the evaluations of his NFL future. He will either be a tease who dominates at times, but never quite puts it all together and relies too much on his gifts like Vick, or he will continue to grow and fall somewhere on the McNabb-Romo-Favre axis. To predict abject failure ignores the aspects of Manziel’s game beyond improvisation, and how many of the elements of his improvisation will translate. No matter what happens, Manziel will continue to be one of the most talked-about players in the league, and we will all learn more from each other about evaluating the quarterback position and what it takes to win at QB in the NFL… and I look forward to that almost as much as I look forward to watching Manziel play on Sundays. Almost.
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