Here’s something you don’t see too often. Johnny Manziel, former first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns, attempting to make a comeback into the NFL and currently relegated to participating in a brand new Spring League with a small handful of teams, basically just criticized the team for drafting him when they did.
He feels as though the Browns should have done more research into the type of person and player he was and how little he actually knew about football and then catered to his needs. While there is a certain natural logic to the sentiment, it rests on the presumption that he would have actually developed into an NFL-caliber quarterback if he put the work in.
“If Cleveland did any of their homework, they would have known that I was a guy that didn’t come in every day and watch film, I was a guy that didn’t really know the Xs and Os of football”, he told Dan Patrick. “I played in a spread offense. We looked at bubbles, we looked at flats, we had progression reads across the field; it wasn’t like it was a super-intricate pro system”.
When you do draft a quarterback, yes, it’s true that you should understand what he knows and what he will need to be able to grow. Still, Manziel’s comments and sentiments reek of a deflection of responsibility for his own performance and progress.
He said that there was nobody there helping him learn the details of the game and seemed to be making a reference to Brian Hoyer, who was their primary starter during his rookie season. His inability to understand what he was doing he blames for his struggles on the practice field, and those struggles led to a depression.
“That’s when some things mental health-wise started to really change what was going on in my life, but I would go back to after the draft and getting with someone, or putting in extra time, or whatever it was, to make sure that I really, genuinely understood what was going on”, Manziel said. “There was a lot of winging it and not a lot of knowing exactly what I was doing because it was a hard transition for me. I didn’t know everything”.
As I said above, there is surely some merit to what the quarterback is saying, but it still creates a bad image for somebody who is looking to come back into the league. Do you want to communicate the message that you will blame whoever gives you a chance if you end up failing?
Frankly, I would be surprised if he ever even earns another offseason contract with an NFL team. I don’t think that anything he has done since beginning his campaign to return to the league has done himself any favors, including his on-field return.