In his 1st prime time action of the year Johnny Manziel was able to meet many of critics expectations. To be completely honest, he most likely exceeded the expectations of his harshest critics. Manziel was able to escape the pocket and avoid pressure. He did so to the tune of a 71.8 QBR. A solid number, especially considering the amount of playing time he has received this season.
His arm looked strong and accurate while on the run. There was a level of sharpness to his game that hasn’t been seen since he entered the NFL. Johnny even looked as if he has the speed to outrun many of the linebackers and defensive line that pursued him through the game. The most impressive play was the climax of a 92 yards touchdown drive that ended the half. Manziel avoided the rush, escaped to his right all while running toward the sideline. He rifled a dart to Duke Johnson in the end zone. For that moment many Browns fans had hope.
However, Johnny was less than spectacular in the 2nd half. With the running game faltering, the offensive burden was once again his to bear and as expected he was unable to rise to the occasion.
The problem with the Johnny Football phenomenon is that while the great plays are tremendous, the routine plays are painful. His inability to throw from the pocket turns even the most routine drop back pass into a circus. Everyone loves a QB that can extend plays with his feet, but Johnny tries to do it every play. It is most likely due to two reasons.
One, he is too short to see over the line and isn’t one of the few undersized QBs who can some how find throwing lanes (i.e. Wilson and Brees).
Two, he just doesn’t see the field well. There are many QBs that enter the NFL who are of the requisite arm talent, but they always fail to read the overages and find the open option.
When he scrambles, both of these potential issues are solved. He is able to avoid the rush and get into space to give himself a better sight line and the coverage breaks down so receivers begin to run free late in the play. While these plays may look great, they cannot be counted on to win games.
Johnny Manziel may have matured as a player and as a man, but he has shown limited improvement as a quarterback. He has the arm strength, but not the means to utilize it effectively. Johnny has now become the flush draw in poker that ends up ruining your evening. You chase it, because if it lands, it’s a sure fire win. However, more often than not you stay in the game spending precious time and money on a hand that is never going to pay off.
Photo credit: sourced from http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/24564418/johnny-manziel-texted-browns-qb-coach-hurry-up-and-draft-me-