Saturday, November 7, 2015

Why Everyone is Wrong About Johnny Manziel

  The whole world is crazy because of Johnny Manziel. Should the Browns cut him because he is a drug abuser? Should we fire General Manager Ray Farmer for drafting him in the first place?   Or should he be promoted to the starter's position in place of "boring" veteran Josh McCown? Is Manziel a superstar in the making?  

    I think all this is nonsense and Manziel is going to develop more or less like any other young quarterback.  People who expect instant results, good or bad, are wrong.  I think more than anything else he needs time to develop and trying to accelerate the process isn't going to work. 
    Manziel came out of college not one but two years early. He is actually a few months younger than Cardale Jones. Normal quarterback development results in starting by the second year after graduation, and sometimes during the rookie year.  If the Browns wanted instant results they should not have taken a guy who is so young.  Moving to the NFL did not necessarily accelerate his football development. He's still only 22 years old. The guy wound up in rehab, so apparently his personal development is not all that advanced either.  

     Based on his graduating class, 2016 should be his rookie season, and if didn't start his first year, 2017 might be his first year to put up numbers.  Anything that happens earlier than that is strictly a bonus.   The whole idea that his development is going to be accelerated because he came of college early is ridiculous, and I might add it's never been done before, because the NFL only recently allowed sophomores to be drafted. More than likely, he isn't going to develop any faster than Cardale Jones, and the expectation for instant success is completely fictitious.  That doesn't mean he is terrible.

   Most quarterbacks improve greatly from their first to second year, and don't emerge as a star until about age 23 or 24.  It would be great if Manziel would be a superstar right now, but that is not expected.  Normal development is for him to become a competent NFL starter in 2016 or 2017.   That's the track he should be on.   This business of needing to make a decision on starting him or cutting him immediately at age 22 is ABSURD and PATHOLOGICALLY STUPID.      

   Manziel did  some very stupid things in his rookie year.   It should have been his junior season at Texas A&M.  He's a kid, and not a very mature one at that.  Why would anyone expect a college junior to be a big and immediate success in the NFL?

   The Browns do not need to be in a hurry to "find out what they have."   This is just total fabrication by the sports media, because they would be the ones who would benefit.  First of all, football teams need to play to win every game, and if they play for next year they will not be able to attract players to their team. It's ridiculous to not field the best starting quarterback and to start the 2016 pre-season in 2015. If Manziel gives us the best chance to win, go for it.  But if not, let's hold off.

     Second, if we do rush him into action Manziel would probably struggle on a team with no running game and only one deep ball threat among wide receivers in Travis Benjamin.  Will that tell you how to set up your draft priorities in 2016?  I doubt it.  

    Even if he looks great, would we ever reach the point where we consider him to be irreplacable and quit looking for quarterbacks in the draft?  I doubt it.  And anyway Jerry Jones would outbid us in 2019 when Manziel becomes a free agent.  So just forget about making a ten year commitment to a young Peyton Manning.  That is just not going to happen.  The whole debate is insipid.

    Nothing really great happens by playing Manziel unless he is really the best option on a given Sunday.  

 Manziel is under contract through 2017 with an option year for 2018. Maybe Texas A&M would have been the ideal situation for him, and maybe the Browns should have taken him in a later round, but that's over the dam now.   He's here and practicing and getting better and also getting some game experience, though limited so far.  

    Equally ridculous are those who insist Manziel should be cut.  We should be sensitive to the fact that he is fighting a life threatening situation with drug addiction, and he simply can not play if he reverts back to active using.  There was a warning signal when he was apparently acting erratically last month.  However, nothing good would happen if Manziel is cut.  His bonus money would be taken out of the salary cap immediately. Why would the Browns want to do that  unless they are forced?  Meantime he is good enough to at least be a backup quarterback, as evidenced by his winning start against Tennessee in September.  

      Looking at the numbers, he is clearly improving after a disastrous 2014 rookie season.  He already has a win which is no small achievement for a backup quarterback.  How can anyone conclude that he is near his peak after two starts in 2015?  No, it is much more logical to believe that he will continue to improve in the next two or three years.  If he has a poor 2015, it doesn't mean he won't be better next year and the year after.

     The Browns are well stocked at quarterback with established starters Josh McCown and Austin Davis.  Neither are likely to be good enough to turn around a bad offense with no running game, but they would be okay if there were more help on offense.  Draft another wide receiver and a running back and let's see how it goes.  

      Cris Carter tells the parable of the muffins, and it goes something like this:  "Muffins come out of the oven when they are ready.  Sometimes it's ten minutes, sometimes fifteen.  If the muffin isn't ready after ten minutes, it doesn't mean it is a bad muffin.  Wait till its ready, then judge."  

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