What to do about Johnny?

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Manziel (2)

NOTE: On NNR Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports and I discussed the news of the day, injuries from the previous week, previewed all week 9 games and discussed the Browns/Bengals game.

Now that Johnny Manziel has played 2 games this season the question is what should we do about Johnny? Should the Browns go back and play veteran Josh McCown or let Manziel play the rest of the season?

To decide it is necessary to take a look at what has been learned about Manziel’s progress learning the NFL game.

What we saw in the Bengal game last night was a player that was more accurate throwing on the run. That was a good thing because he was harassed all evening because of a pathetic O line performance. He was also more able to keep his eyes down field under pressure. That allowed throws down field against the rush. That is a key ability.

He has adequate arm strength to be an NFL starter. And he is getting better at moving safeties away from his intended targets. While he does this on the move, he struggles to do it in the pocket.

All that is good. However, there are a number of things that make me believe he will never be an adequate NFL starter.

The most significant issue is Manziel’s lack of ability to throw out of the pocket. I can not believe that Coach Mike Pettine said at half time that he wanted to keep Manziel in the pocket. That is exactly what the Bengals wanted to do. They knew that to keep him in the pocket would limit his ability to extend plays.

The next biggest issue is that he does not read defensive coverages nearly well enough to be effective. While time in the film room will help fix that, it is not something that is easy to repair. The ability to learn to read coverage is not only a function of time in the film room and live snaps but also a function of his basic football intelligence and willingness to spend the time to learn his craft. So far he has said all the right things but his actions indicate he is not ready to dedicate himself to his craft.

The big plays that Manziel has made have almost always come from this ability to extend plays. The problem is that no NFL team can build an offense based on extending the play. He also lacks vision from the pocket. While some blame his lack of height that has not prevented other QB prospects from doing well. Both Drew Brees and Russell Wilson are short but see the field much better than Manziel.

He also has issues with putting touch on the ball when needed. Another factor involves his speed. Is he fast enough to get out of the pocket and escape pressure? Again I doubt he does.

Another issue is his ability to physically survive an entire season. He is not nearly as thick as Wilson and is more likely to be injured.

In my opinion with 55 years of watching college and pro football and studying the draft, Manziel is not ever going to become a quality NFL starter. It is time in my opinion to start Austin Davis to whom the team has given an extension. Regardless if he is successful or not the team should draft a QB of the future and let him develop behind Davis for a while. Despite what GM Ray Farmer believes, the NFL is now a passing league that requires a quality QB and tall fast WRS.

That is what I think. Tell us what you think by commenting here or tweeting me @NNRonDSN.

NOTE: News, Notes and Rumors podcast are BACK. Check out our thoughts on Fridays about the games coming up and Monday on the results of the weekend. My co-host is Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports. Podcasts can be heard on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/. Thanks for your support.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/. Follow him on twitter @NNRonDSN to get the schedule of Special News, Notes and Rumors broadcasts. You can hear the previous shows on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/.

He also edits http://fryingpanpolitics.org/.

To keep up with the News, Notes & Rumors podcasts, follow me on twitter @NNRonDSN.


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