Cleat Geeks

Tale of the Tape: Johnny Manziel vs. 49ers

Since Johnny Manziel was first selected 22nd overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 2014 draft, he has made more appearances in news headlines than football games. From flipping the bird to the Washington sideline during a preseason game, to checking into rehab this past offseason, the media has seemingly kept track of Johnny Football’s every move.

For so much attention paid to his actions off the field, very little is given to how he performs on it. This article takes an in-depth look at his most recent performance against the San Francisco 49ers.

Here is the Tale of the tape, good, bad and ugly.


The Good

  • For the most part, Manziel did what was asked of him. Granted, that wasn’t a lot. Head coach Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo did a good job simplifying their offense for the young quarterback, as many of his throws were one-read quick hitters. However, there were times that he had to improvise, and more times than not he turned out a big play.

  • Manziel did a good job playing from the pocket. As someone who hasn’t studied him before, I was surprised how much of this game he played in between his tackles. He did scramble on a handful of occasions as expected, but most of the time it was out of necessity. He displayed shockingly good pocket presence and footwork on a couple of plays, such as this one.

  • Johnny Football may not play in college anymore, but he is still making people miss like he used to. Check out the Texas A&M-esque moves he used to make several defenders miss on this scramble. It may have ultimately ended in a throwaway, but darn it, it was the most entertaining throwaway you’ll ever see.


The Bad

  • If Manziel wants to be a successful quarterback, he needs to improve his accuracy and ball placement. Too many of his throws were either high or behind his defender – a couple could have been intercepted. This one for instance was thrown straight into the turf and thus cost Cleveland a touchdown.

  • Johnny Football needs to do a better job progressing through his reads, and keeping his eyes downfield when he scrambles. There were times where you could see his head moving left to right on his drop backs, but too often he was caught staring down one receiver. He also missed a couple potentially huge plays after breaking the pocket. Keep your eye on the slot receiver on the top of the screen in the play below. After waiting for a brief moment in the flat, he turns and sprints upfield, 20 yards away from the nearest defender. If Manziel sees this and gets him the ball, this play easily goes for 40+ yards. Instead, he gets sacked and it loses 11.

 The Ugly

  • Manziel’s lone interception on the day came off an errant pass on the run. After breaking the pocket and scrambling to the left sideline, Manziel passed up on an open Travis Benjamin right in front of him. Instead, he opted to throw the ball across his body to the middle of the field, where it was intercepted by a defender.

Overall, Manziel played as good of a game as you can hope for someone making his sixth career start. He wasn’t amazing, but he limited his mistakes and did what was needed to get his team the win. The one thing you would like to see out of him is more consistency; sometimes he would progress through his reads, other times he would stare down one receiver. Some plays he would stand in the pocket and deliver a throw, others he heard footsteps and left early. If he can improve his accuracy and consistently see the entire field, he can be a quality starter in this league.

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