So, it’s now official. Johnny Manziel will make his first start of the season this Sunday at First Energy Stadium against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Mike Pettine is 100% correct in saying the rookie currently gives his football team a better chance to win this week and for the final two games of the season. The Cleveland offense under Brian Hoyer had become stagnant, and wasn’t able to take advantage of the turnovers and great field position the defense had given them.
It is refreshing to hear Manziel say that he will not be the player he was at Texas A & M, because he can’t be. This is the NFL, and hopefully the former Heisman Trophy winner will change his style to adapt to the bigger and faster athletes in professional football.
Here’s hoping that Johnny Football emulates in style the Super Bowl winning quarterback of a year ago, Russell Wilson.
Wilson is around the same size as Manziel and he also has the ability to be mobile. However, the Seahawks don’t run a lot of read option plays for Wilson, probably because they want him to stay healthy and limit the hits on him.
We know that offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan coached Robert Griffin III during his first two years in the league and Griffin ran the football a lot. We hope that Shanahan has observed that style of offense doesn’t really work in today’s NFL.
We would like to see Manziel make most of his plays from the pocket, but with the added dimension of being able to move out of the pocket if the protection breaks down. Certainly, the new quarterback has better arm strength, so the offense may be able to take some shots down the field.
As CBS college football analyst and former Browns’ QB Gary Danielson said earlier this year, Manziel needs to realize there are 4000 yards in the pocket, and maybe 500 yards running the ball.
Some quarterbacks struggle with making the conversion from college to playing inside the tackles in the NFL. Griffin III is the most current example, but Michael Vick has had the same issues over his years in the league.
On the other hand, Donovan McNabb came into the league with the reputation of being a running quarterback, but quickly learned the lesson that playing from the pocket is what wins in the NFL.
Think about it. The great passers currently in the NFL are pocket passers: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisburger. The latter two can use their legs to extend plays, but they run the ball out of necessity, not generally from designed plays.
That’s the way to go if Manziel wants to have a long, successful career in the league.
As for this Sunday, if JFF can make some plays with his legs to revitalize what has become a moribund attack, then fine. The team needs to win this Sunday to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
Also, here’s hoping that Shanahan gives him some safe throws early in the game to ease him into his first start. Although, it would be fun to see the rookie drop back on his first play from scrimmage and look deep for Josh Gordon, just to show Cincinnati the Browns now have the ability to stretch the field.
There is no question that Manziel brings a buzz to the “Battle of Ohio”. But to have extended success in the NFL and have the chance to become the franchise quarterback for the Browns, he will need to make an adjustment in the style of play he used in college.
It may not be exciting for the Manzealots, but it’s the smart way to go.