Last summer just prior to the start of college football, Johnny Manziel seemingly wanted to be anywhere in the traveled universe other than College Station. Yet he stayed and played, because if he ever wanted to get paid for the latter, he had to do the former. And now he can flee to get dat sweet NFL cash.
THIS JUST IN: Johnny Manziel is expected to announce decision on his football-playing future Wednesday. (via @skhanjr)
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 8, 2014
It would be shocking if we heard anything but the announcement to go pro after ESPN reported that Manziel decided to hire an agent. For both personal reasons and professional, Manziel seems done with everything about college football. That’s especially true because of the constant inane criticisms he receives when he dares to act like a college kid by consuming a beverage or three while in the company of several girls he surely met at the library.
The Manziel microscope has always been and will continue to be the absolute worst, and it has me terrified for the month of April. Beginning in that month and escalating to a crescendo at draft day, we’ll constantly hear/read about anonymous sources and unnamed scouts questioning Manziel’s character, and how much he likes the bottle more than football. It’ll be both exhausting, and pointless. Again, Manziel is a college kid who does college kid things, and the only difference between him and any other young beer chugging bro is that he’s quite good at football.
Let’s make a pledge to focus on only that part of Manziel in the lead up to draft day. Amongst ourselves, let’s debate whether or not his approach to the quarterback position will translate to the professional level, a debate which is already in warp speed on Twitter dot com and elsewhere. Personally, I’m not a full believer yet, as he’s part Tebow in the sense that he can only function in one very specific type of offense.
But mostly, my concern lies in plays like this one…
There are a handful of similar plays that you’ll see repeated on an endless loop from now until early May, and they have the same common elements. Manziel makes an incredible and unbelievably athletic play to escape a rush, the sort that parallels or even exceeds anything we’ve seen from the current batch of NFL quarterbacks who come to mind when you hear the tag “mobile quarterback”. Then he heaves a desperation prayer jump ball which should be intercepted, and his plea to the football gods above is answered.
That won’t fly in the NFL, but he’s no Tebow in the sense that his arm and throwing mechanics are infinitely better, as if his college career is indeed over he finishes his two seasons with a completion percentage of 68.9, and 9.1 yards per attempt to go along with his absurd 2,169 rushing yards. Manziel’s decision making can be developed, but that natural athleticism can’t be, which is why a team will take the leap and make him a first-round pick.
He’ll then either go boom or go bust. But hey, at least we’ll have a different quarterback to divide and polarize the public at large for years, even after he’s gone. Hooray?
More notes, reading, stray thoughts, and other such randomness
Oh, Jeff Ireland
I’d say the move to get Jeff Ireland out of South Beach by any means possible (yes, I’m sure it was “mutual“) was inevitable. But that’s the sort of thing I would have said a year ago, and a year before that.
Mercifully, the NFL’s now former leading general manager doofus isn’t in Miami anymore. Rejoice, Dolphins fans, and sing your anthems.
Among the general public, Ireland asking a prospect (Dez Bryant) if his mother is a prostitute will be his most remembered moment of buffonery. And rightfully so, because although last offseason Aaron Hernandez taught us that you can never really know how far “character concerns” go, that was a uniquely idiotic decision.
But continually he made other bad choices related to the actual construction of a football team (you know, his job) that left many scratches on foreheads. Sure Jeff, that spending spree which landed Mike Wallace, Dustin Keller, Brandon Gibson, and retained Brian Hartline (and that’s just the offensive side of the ball) was great fun. A crucial step was missed, though: your quarterback couldn’t get the ball to any of them since his offensive line was horribly constructed following the departure of Jake Long, and he was sacked a league leading 58 times.
Ireland spent $60 million — $30 million of which is guaranteed — on Wallace, a vertical receiver who didn’t at all fit into the offense run by the since fired Mike Sherman. And of course, finding Wallace deep downfield was difficult for Tannehill when he was constantly staring at pretty clouds.
That’s just the mistakes from this season, and just offensively. Jumping way up to grab Dion Jordan wasn’t exactly smooth, though maybe Ireland came about his lack of smoothness honestly. He learned under Bill Parcells, and in Miami he’s the guy who famously passed on Matt Ryan in 2008 in favor of Long. Yes, when healthy Long is still a fine tackle, but the problem is that throughout his time in Miami before departing as a free agent, he didn’t have anyone behind him worthy of protecting.
Ireland was left to still search for an answer at quarterback, and reach at No. 8 for Tannehill. Then he promptly went about the business of shattering his sophomore arm.
Chris Johnson says “feed me”
The playoffs are just the best, but a reality we’re refusing to acknowledge right now is that in less than a month, the silliness of the offseason begins. Which also means in less than a month, Chris Johnson’s time as a Tennessee Titan is likely over.
Johnson is due to make $8 million next year, which is a drastically inflated figure for a running back who’s creeping closer to his position death age of 30 (Johnson will turn 29 next September), and one who averaged only 3.9 yards per carry this past season. However, Johnson argues that his numbers dwindled because he wasn’t given nearly enough touches.
From The Tennesseean:
“I feel like if they are not going to use me the way I am supposed to be used and let me be the horse, then I would rather them let me move on. Their money would be wasted on me. I feel like if they are not going to use me right, let somebody get me that’s going to use me the right way.”
Although the Titans’ new head coach and his vision will be a factor, money sense should ultimately win out, and Johnson will get his wish. He could move on to have a few productive years elsewhere, which would suck for the Titans. But if he won’t take a pay cut (he won’t), committing that kind of coin to a bouncing running back who completely whiffs on holes far more often than he hits home runs is the correct decision.
However, there is some truth talk in Johnson’s words.
“No disrespect, I love Tennessee and would love to be in Tennessee. But I feel like I am wasting the prime years of my career if I am not used right. You feel me? It is crazy to look at backs around the league and see the opportunities they have. I am not a coach, and I am not a GM. But if I am paying a player to make him the top-paid guy on the team, there is no way in critical situations that he is going to be on the sideline. Around the goal line, I’d come out.
“I want to help the team win. People say, ‘He is not worth the $10 million, he is not worth the $8 million.’ I feel like if you give me $8 million, let me earn it. At crucial times of the game, I shouldn’t be on the sideline watching.”
Then again, it was his plodding and lack of production that prompted the Shonn Greene signing, which ended in Johnson on the bench during most goal-line situations. He’s now spent three seasons falling below the 300-carry mark he craves.
Oh and then again, there’s also this…
Since his 2k season, no one in the NFL has more carries than Chris Johnson. Explain to me how the Titans aren’t using him right?
— Pete Damilatis (@PFF_Pete) January 8, 2014