Dallas, Kansas City among possible fits for Johnny Manziel
After a series of off-the-field issues in Cleveland, it looks very much as if Johnny Football will be moving on almost soon as the Browns can cut him. The young quarterback’s NFL future is obviously tied to his ability to conform to the professionalism expected of the man who fronts most NFL franchises, but let’s instead take a look at Manziel the football player. Is there something to work with at this level? What has he shown and what kind of scheme would he fit with best?
Manziel played just 79 snaps as a rookie which amounted really to one start against the Bengals in Week 15 (he started the next game too but left hurt after just 16 snaps). This season saw Manziel get far more of an opportunity and at least flash potential. There were more horrendous games in there — bookending the season with particularly ugly passing displays — but there was also the kind of on-the-fly playmaking ability we saw at Texas A&M and hoped to see at the next level.
What Manziel is capable of doing with his legs is his biggest asset right now. The Browns didn’t use him much as a designed runner, but on the three times they did he gained 47 yards, so it should probably be something any new team applies. The league is becoming better at making use of athletic quarterbacks in ways that are less gimmicky and genuinely useful for the offense.
On the 27 times he scrambled during pass plays he gained 189 yards and forced five missed tackles. 78 of those yards came after contact. Manziel is electric with the ball in his hands and proved that his dynamism when things break down still works at the NFL level. Manziel actually earned the highest PFF rating of any quarterback for his work running the ball. His 97.2 was markedly higher than any other player at the position and was the one thing he did consistently well.
As a passer is where Manziel continues to struggle far more. His decision-making is still suspect, and he is far too inefficient at the short to intermediate level of the defense – a quarterback’s bread and butter. His accuracy has been average at best. Though he completed over 65 percent of his passes when kept clean, he was accurate on just 70.6 percent of all attempts — 29th in the NFL.
Manziel does have some things in his favor though. His deep numbers are good, thanks in part to his ability to make very tough deep passes on the move or after a play has broken down, and his general ability to improvise and make plays on the run is impressive. Let’s take a look at a few possible fits for Manziel:
Jerry Jones and Johnny Manziel seem destined to be together, and there is a touch of Tony Romo in Manziel’s ability to create and improvise. The Cowboys would give Manziel the perfect destination for him, and the ability to sit and learn behind a quarterback that shares some of the same traits. The team has also shown the willingness to babysit troubled star players in the recent past (Dez Bryant).
Kansas City Chiefs
Chase Daniel is a free agent and Alex Smith needs a backup.Smith has become a genuinely effective part of an option-package, which would be a natural fit for Manziel with no pressure to start in the short term.
San Francisco 49ers
Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to see Manziel and Chip Kelly together? The 49ers have no quarterback that has a lock on that job, and Manziel does give Kelly the athletic running threat that makes his offense much more effective. Perhaps Kelly could coach him into a viable passer while leaning on his running skills.