Manziel Needs To Do More Than Grow Up
I’ve noticed that people are either apologists or haters when it comes to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. It seems like everywhere you go everybody keeps talking about “Johnny Football.” Apologists point to his age for his recent media snafus and cite his electric 2012 Heisman season to defend his actions. I was 20 years old once, so I can empathize with wanting to party and get the “college experience.” I know I did, but then my life wasn’t under the microscope of the national media nor did I have the perks of being a Heisman winner and household name. The sad truth is that with fame comes celebrity and those who are not ready for it are generally destroyed in the media. There is nothing people like more than watching a hero fall.
That being said, Manziel also needs to take note of certain things if he plans to take the next step to the NFL following the 2013 NCAA season. First and foremost is Manziel’s drinking problem. Manziel’s father was quoted as saying he believe his son’s drinking problem is a result of coping with the stress of being under media scrutiny. As an NFL team that is a scary prospect. If Manziel is just drinking because of immaturity, then as a NFL team I could look for him to mature with age. However, drinking because of stress is a red flag because it would make me wonder how he would be able to handle stress at the next level where fans and the media circus demand instant results.
The next thing Manziel should worry about is his skills and athletic ability to be able to compete at the next level. While a good runner, Manziel is not a particularly fast runner like and RG3 or Michael Vick. Manziel is more like an elusive Tim Tebow. The fact that Manziel is a good runner will also be a detriment in the NFL. Way too often Manziel looks to run the ball instead of waiting for passing lanes to open up. As a former high school player I know that there is no more desirable target for a defensive player than an exposed quarterback. Part of Manziel’s running game could come from a desire to do everything himself, but is more likely the byproduct of being a little short for the position and not being able to see the passing lanes as well as taller players. Of course, it could also come from not understanding complex defenses given his limited game experience.
Another criticism on his game is “Johnny Football’s” tendency to throw from an unstable base. More often than not Manziel will throw without setting his feet causing him to push the ball rather than throw it. An NFL scout will see that and immediately tell you that will lead to a lack of zip on his passes. Granted those are mechanical problems that can be fixed with coaching, but most scouts will probably tell you he has yet to show he can throw the long-ball on a consistent basis. Instead A&M’s offense runs more quick-hit routes, which is a tactic that good coaches often use to hide a quarterback’s weaknesses.
The next thing Manziel should take into account is the fact that Heisman winning quarterbacks tend not to fare well in the NFL. Most are products of their college’s offensive system. Just ask former Heisman winners like Tim Tebow, Matt Leinart, Danny Wuerfful and Andre Ware. All had successful college careers. All failed at the NFL level.
The last and probably most important thing Manziel needs to do is sit down and ask what he really wants from life. The media circus is only going to get crazier in the NFL, and the chances of failing are even greater. As I see it, “Johnny Football” has two options: grow up and work on his game so he can move on to the NFL or enjoy his 15 minutes of fame and live his life to what he considers is the fullest.