The Cleveland Browns are 2-8. Their season has gone into the toilet bowl as they sit at 2-8. Despite a solid season by Josh McCown, head coach Mike Pettine has made the choice to go with Johnny Manziel for the rest of the season. While I think it is the right choice for the Browns, what does it mean for your fantasy team down the stretch?
I won’t — and haven’t really ever — hide the fact that I have never been a huge fan of Johnny Manziel. It started way back to when my Houston Texans had the first draft pick, and he started — well, being Johnny Football. This little quarterback with the big ego that could never stop running his mouth and was seemingly always hamming it up in the spotlight.
I was hoping he would fall flat on his face last night. I was hoping that I would be able to wake up this morning and tell you he was simply the worst quarterback I had ever seen. Once again, Johnny Football did the unexpected.
“It would be the worst decision they’ve ever made. I’d be in the same division playing against them twice a year. Sorry, but you just turned that chip on my shoulder from a Fritos into a Dorito.”
I tried, folks. I wanted to steer clear of a draft rant until after the NFL Combine concluded on February 25th. Then over the weekend, Johnny Manziel had to once again tell the sports world about how great a quarterback Johnny Manziel is. Well, I don’t buy it.
It’s not that I hate Johnny Football or think he doesn’t have the skills to succeed in the NFL. I don’t think he is what the Texans, my favorite NFL team, need at number one. I don’t think any of these QBs are. Seemingly everyday some draft expert has new insight on how the Texans need to take Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel. Well which one is it? According to Johnny Football, the first pick should be Johnny Football.
If you have been following me on Twitter, you know I have been taking two approaches. One, I am trying to start #TeamClowney because that is who, at the current moment, I want at number one overall. Secondly, I said I was not yet sold on the quarterbacks and that they could change my mind at the NFL Combine next week, which was why I was trying to hold off on a blog. Johnny Manziel will not be there as he is voluntarily skipping the event to prepare for his Pro Days.
While people question Clowney’s desire and motivation, I question if Manziel knows what he is talking about. Let’s dissect his quote from the other day:
It would be the worst decision they have ever made. Has he watched the Texans at all over the last decade? This is a team that drafted Dunta Robinson, Travis Johnson, Amobi Okoye, and Kareem Jackson in the first round and kept Gary Kubiak as head coach for about 3 seasons too long.
I’d be in the same division playing against them twice a year. This of course is speculation that if the Texans pass on Mr. Football then the Jaguars would snatch him up at the third pick. This is the same Jaguars team that swept the Texans last season and the same Jaguars team that won two games in 2012 and took the Texans, amid their best season in history, to the last seconds of overtime in a high scoring affair, and the same Jaguars that the Texans own a career 13-11 record over. The Jaguars have been doing quite alright handling the Texans without Johnny Football.
Sorry, but you just turned that chip on my shoulder from a Fritos into a Dorito. How delightfully metaphorical. I don’t care for Fritos much though, so I would hope it was a Dorito from the get go, preferably the Spicy Nacho flavor.
So why am I opposed to Manziel and this year’s flock of QBs at number one? Sure, the Texans need a QB badly, but is jumping on a prospect based on only their potential the right thing to do at number one? In 1984 the Portland Trail Blazers needed a center and they drafted Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan. Sometimes talent supersedes need. If you subscribe to the philosophy that you address needs in the draft over talent, let me throw this at you: the Texans addressed their biggest need last December when they fired Kubiak. His play calling had gone stale and their offense became predictable. He laid it up too often when the Texans needed him to be Tin Cup and just go for it.
Manziel is not the right choice for the Texans. Our fan base deserves a proven winner, not a stat sheet filler. The current starter (I think) Case Keenum set records as a Houston Cougar and did very little last season to show that he is starting NFL QB material. Across the state, Dallas has been dealing with Tony Romo lighting up box scores for years with nothing to show for it. If the Texans go QB number one, he has to be Andrew Luck-esque, a guy who is going to get the team to the playoffs in year one and take over the division in year two. Drafting Johnny Manziel as the future of the team is not my problem. My problem is in drafting him with the number one overall pick. If the Texans had the fifth to seventh pick, I would have no problem with a gamble however, with the first pick overall, you need an immediate game changer. Take a look at the last four years. Andrew Luck and Cam Newton are considered elite, while people are beginning to question Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford. Yes, the same Matthew Stafford who has thrown for over 4,500 yards the last three seasons is viewed by some as uncoachable. Why? Because the Lions don’t win.
Manziel’s stats speak volumes, but stats do not win titles. In all of his college greatness, the Aggies had no division or conference championships and no BCS Bowl appearances to show for it. The Heisman you say? Sure, he was the first freshman to win the award, but it was considered by many to be the weakest Heisman class ever: Manti Te’o, Collin Klein, Marqise Lee, and Braxton Miller. What happened this season when he battled against Jameis Winston, Andre Williams, Tre Mason, Jordan Lynch, and AJ McCarron? He finished fifth.
I know, Clowney’s Gamecocks didn’t win any championships either. The reality of football however is that the quarterback is the ultimate leader. When the team wins the quarterback is the hero while when they lose he’s the goat. Clowney led a defense that had USC finish in the Top Ten in the nation all three years he was in school. Johnny Manziel’s Aggies only finished in the Top Ten once in his two year tenure.
Jadeveon Clowney is a freak of nature. Standing at 6’5″ and 274 pounds with 4.5 40-speed, he has the perfect build to transition from college defensive end to 3-4 linebacker in Houston’s scheme. He was the consensus top ranked recruit going into college and is currently the number one ranked draft prospect overall. He was Freshman of the Year in his first campaign, and while Manziel turned heads as the first freshman to win the Heisman, Clowney was the first sophomore to win the Hendrick’s Award as the top end in the nation. He times the snap better than most and he is too quick for trap blocking schemes. He can defend the run and the pass and has unlimited potential. What scares draft experts and NFL people is his head. Many feel that he took last season off to protect himself for his big payday in May. They question his work ethic because he was late to a few meetings and wasn’t the first-and-last-in-the-weight-room type of guy. There is some worry whether he will still have the desire and drive once he signs and makes his millions. I can’t answer that, but I’m willing to take that chance on sheer talent alone.
Manziel? He’s either the number 2 or 3 ranked QB heading into the draft and around the number 7 overall prospect depending on whose information you use. He is short for a QB standing at 6’1 and 210 pounds. He recently thanked Russell Wilson for showing that short QBs can win it all. No mention of how their defense (which was mainly built through the draft) came through when their offense sputtered throughout the season, eh, Johnny? The big knock on Manziel is that he falls away from his throws whether there is any pressure or not and this directly effects his consistency and accuracy. Well that doesn’t sound very good to me at all.
Who is Manziel’s primary competition? Teddy Bridgewater is a very good quarterback at many aspects of his game; however, he is just not a great quarterback. Blake Bortles has the quarterback build, but his footwork and throwing mechanics are questionable. When I look at Teddy Bridgewater I see a Big Ben type of QB while in Johnny Manziel I see a Russell Wilson or a more quarterback-ready Tim Tebow. When I watch Bortles, the way he runs and throws, I see Andrew Luck. Which of those guys would you draft first overall?
Recently, Manziel received two ringing endorsements from some pretty elite company. John McClain, esteemed writer for the Chronicle and regular insider on the NFL Network, said he is sold on Manziel as the right pick for the Texans, while legendary New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre said he sees himself when he looks at Manziel. Despite these prestigious opinions, I still feel that taking Manziel with the first pick is as equal a gamble as taking Clowney first and picking a project like Zach Mettenberger with a later selection. Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Russell Wilson turned out to be pretty darn good quarterbacks and they couldn’t even sneak into the first round never mind the first pick overall. Every Andrew Luck pick has a Jamarcus Russell to counter it and every Peyton Manning has a Jeff George. If Manziel was the clear cut choice over Bridgewater and Bortles, then the Texans would have to go for him. But he isn’t, and he won’t be at the Combine to prove to me otherwise.
I need to cool off. By the time you read this, I’m sure Derek Carr will be the projected number one pick in the draft. I wouldn’t mind that actually because I could whip out my David Carr jersey and wear it again with pride. Until next time, here’s to USA bringing home that hockey gold!