“Johnny Manziel is the Justin Bieber of the NFL.” That was the text that was sent to me by my sister-in-law and her husband Monday Night, accompanied with this picture:
While he is a avid sports fans, my sister-in-law is more of a pop culture fan. When I attended the LeBron James homecoming celebration she became jealous of me when the Rehab Addict was on stage. Yet she makes a very good point that leads to a very good question: “Is Johnny Manziel, right now, the Justin Bieber of the NFL?”
Justin Bieber is a musician/singer/performer type. He is most known for a good voice for a young kid, a huge tweenager following and a bunch of loud, obnoxious choices. To many music purists Bieber is nothing more than everything wrong with pop music.
While he may have a good voice, his musical talents are questioned by many. Yet popular culture has embraced Bieber as a star, even as those “in the know” deride his musical abilities.
Bieber has also made a name for himself off the stage. With loud flashy outfits, loud flashy parties and stories of many women since his break with Selena Gomez. Bieber seems more attracted to being a star then to being talented. He has embraced a party style lifestyle while not necessarily honing the craft that helped make him a star.
Does that sound familiar to you Cleveland Browns fans? Mary Kay Cabot seems to believe some of these types of reasons are what helped keep Manziel on the bench, instead of starting Week 1:
Johnny Manziel started losing this job right after the draft when he partied his brains out. Continued losing it right through middle finger
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 20, 2014
Job was there for the taking for Johnny Manziel. He competed against a guy coming off an ACL who's started 4 games and in a new offense
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 20, 2014
Did Manziel, either due to preparation or the team’s view of his behavior, really cost himself the job in the off-season?
In what seems like Bieber fashion, and included Bieber a few times, Manziel spent the off-season enjoying the lifestyle of a celebrity more then honing the craft that helped make him a celebrity. While Brian Hoyer was in the facility, Manziel was all over the country.
While the media tends to over blow individual issues, say the rolled up $20 dollar bill or the goose incident, are those just the tip of the iceberg of the Manziel concerns?
Manziel, like Bieber, is not widely liked for his style of game. NFL purists see a QB that struggles with reads, progressions and throwing on time. They see a player who often ignores solid, 5 to 10 yard gains in hopes of 20 to 30 yard gains.
They talk about a player who is more comfortable in scramble drills and ad-libbing than making plays within the offensive system. Most see talent, but wonder if the player will ever harness all that talent, put in the hours of effort required and create something special or will just rely on who he is already and hope it works well enough.
Monday night’s flipping off of the Washington sideline, while not a huge issue per se, continues to raise flags. Manziel’s natural reaction is to do what he feels like doing.
Whether that was partying in the off-season, going off script from the offense or making that gesture on national TV, Manziel has done what he pleases. He has even stated that he is not going to change for anyone, off the field.
This type of thought process, while confident and sure of himself, has to rub Head Coach Mike Pettine and OC Kyle Shanahan the wrong way. If he isn’t going to listen to them, or owner Jimmy Haslam, about off the field issues why would they believe he will listen to them on the field.
It has been reported that Haslam, Pettine and others have talked to Manziel about his priorities, yet he has continued to do things his way.
On the field, in 2 pre-season games, Manziel has ignored open receivers, tried to make plays with his legs instead of his arm and has looked like the same QB coming out of college. Not in a good way.
While he is learning the playbook, the cadences, the play calls and all the rest, none of that matters if when the ball is snapped he goes back to doing what he wants to do. If Manziel thinks he is right, fine and good the way he is, who can tell him otherwise?
No one has gotten through to Bieber yet, is Manziel the pro athlete version of the pop star? Only time will tell.
Note: Important to note that this writer believes it is in Manziel’s and the Browns’ best interest for him to sit most or all of the season. Even using him in sub packages seems to reinforce old habits that the Browns seem to want to kill.
I think Manziel can be a solid to great NFL QB, but not with how he currently sees the game. Instead of putting him in there where he is still trained to do things the old way, I believe he needs to be broken down some and built back up on the field.
Off the field stuff isn’t all that important to me, only in how it impacts him on the field. I expect a stellar Johnny Manziel in 2015, especially if he sits a year.
The analogy I have been using is of a pretty girl who doesn’t develop a personality or a star athlete in high school who never has to study or learn. Manziel has to be forced to be a solid in the pocket QB, and let the ad-lib stuff be a last ditch resort.
What do you think of the Manziel/Bieber comparison?