After months of off-the-field news, ESPN.com put up a piece on Sunday about Johnny Manziel’s on-field performance:
So, how do you tell the Heisman Trophy winner to do better?
“All you have to do is watch video,” Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said.
What does the video reveal?
“You saw him progress as a quarterback as the year went on,” quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital said. “Those first five games or so, he was just freelancing and doing his own thing.”
Sumlin has noted several times in the past year that Manziel was a better quarterback in the second half of the season. His grasp of the offense and ability to throw downfield have improved.
The stats support that assessment. In the final six games, Manziel had a better completion percentage (73.4 percent, compared to 63.8 percent in the first seven), more yards per attempt (9.31 vs. 7.95), a better touchdown-to-interception ratio (12-to-3, compared with 14-to-6) and, as a result, a better passer rating (169.5 vs. 144.5 to 169.5).
That’s all fine and good, but this next blurb caught my eye:
The area in which he can make serious strides this year is his pocket presence.
“That’s what we focused on throughout the spring because we know what Johnny can do when he’s outside the pocket, running the ball,” Spavital said. “I try not to let him scramble in practice and he gets frustrated at times and you’ll see some pretty wild plays out there, but he’s been staying in the pocket, going through his progressions, and I think it’s making him a better pocket passer.”
Um, okay. Let’s review here. Last year, Manziel passed for 3,706 yards, second only to Georgia’s Aaron Murray (though Murray had one more game). But…and that’s a big but, he also rushed for a conference-best 1,410 yards and 21 scores. That’s more touchdowns than Cam Newton had in 2010, and almost as many yards in one less game.
And now the Aggie coaches want Manziel to be more of a pocket passer?
Sorry, folks. I just don’t buy this one. Manziel isn’t the tallest of quarterbacks, but he is one of the quickest. Sitting him in the pocket would be a defensive coordinators dream and it ain’t gonna happen.