Reads Listens Views 5/2/2014 + My Take on MMQB Manziel Roundtable

I bought mine, thank you very much. Photo by Kevin Lu.
I bought mine, thank you very much. Photo by Kevin Lu.

My critique of Peter King’s Manziel roundtable, Beats Antique, Hangouts, Cramps and crablegs

What is Reads Listens Views?

If you’re new to the Rookie Scouting Portfolio blog, welcome.  I post links on Friday to content I’m saving for later consumption or content I’ve viewed that I found compelling. You may not like everything listed here, but you’re bound to like something.


Before I was writing about football, Friday nights for me after work often meant a couple of beers, some crab legs (don’t go there . . . ), and NBA on TNT. This is one sports show I do miss watching.

 Opinion- MMQB Johnny Manziel Analysis Article

Peter King wrote a roundtable piece on Johnny Manziel where he had a group of football men view some plays of Manziel at Texas A&M and comment on what they saw. I always enjoy these type of articles because the reader gets a chance to see the perspective of individuals who are paid to play, coach, and study the game. If the reader looks beyond the immediate information, he or she sees that there’s quite a bit of disagreement about Manziel among players who have all had success when it comes to the quarterback position.

Mike Holmgren is skeptical about Manziel; David Cutcliffe is optimistic. Kevin Gilbride is most critical of technique; Rich Gannon and Doug Flutie have a more pragmatic take. Think about the experiences of these five people in football and it provides opportunity to critique each critic.

Flutie and Gannon were successful quarterbacks who performed in the league with skill sets that approximate Manziel as a scrambler who can throw. I commend King for recruiting them for this analysis. While both are critical of Manziel’s behavior at times, they’re not dismissive of Manziel’s chances to play the position. Both Gannon and Flutie were in some respects exceptions to the rule of what the NFL values from the position and their perspective includes which quarterbacks in the NFL are exceptions to the rule in ways Manziel might be and why ; what factors will aid the rookie’s transition; and what he’ll see in the NFL that will require him to adjust based on their experience as successful scramblers and improvisors.

Kevin Gilbride has been a quarterback coach and offensive coordinator for several NFL teams and he’s known for an offense that is mostly pocket driven. Even the mobile Mark Brunell, who Gilbride described along with other mobile passers as “running around like a maniac,” threw for over 4000 yards in Gilbride’s offense in 1996. I do find it telling that Gilbride’s noun of choice to describe these quarterbacks is “maniac,” because his perspective is the most critical from a technical standpoint.

Although I’d bet Gilbride’s offensive philosophies have evolved over time, his strength as a coordinator was with pocket passers. Brunell could scramble, but at heart he was still a pocket passer. Kordell Stuart had his worst two seasons with Pittsburgh under Gilbride after having success in a mobile-friendly scheme under Chan Gailey. Gilbride’s criticisms of Manziel are just, but any conclusions drawn from these criticism come from a coach who didn’t have success molding a system to a player who wasn’t a strong pocket passer from the beginning.

I love how King emphasized Cutcliffe’s experience working with successful NFL quarterbacks, coaching the current college game that is feeding offensive concepts to the NFL, and competing against Manziel this year. Something that I believe is true, but King was right not to write as the host of this piece–if he even recognized it as a valid reason for highlighting Cutcliffe in the first place–is that Cutcliffe displayed more flexibility in his perspective than either Gilbride or Holmgren and he’s well-known for his work with classic pocket passers. If King states it as bluntly as I do, the statement would characterize Gilbride and Holmgren as stiff and inflexible minds rooted in their process.  Instead he lets the reader derive his own conclusions.

Holmgren has the greatest range of experiences as a coach and general manager. However, I think we see more of Holmgren the GM than Holmgren the coach when it comes to Manziel. If you recall, the former Packers and Seahawks head coach was very hands-on with his quarterbacks and not averse to critiquing his passers in the moment of the game. He had a very set idea of what he wanted from his passers and I think he emotionally thrived off being known as the quarterback guru as well as a coach. You don’t let media film you coaching your quarterbacks in meetings during the week if you don’t have pride in this aspect of your job.

Holmgren’s specific prescriptions for quarterback play as a coach and then his experience as a GM might actually limit his scope on what he believes works and doesn’t work in the NFL. Someone I spoke with last night told me that there are certain players that make coaches light up, but cause GM’s to squint their eyes and shake their heads. In this case, my friend was talking about running backs who play with little regard for their bodies. However, I can see how it translates to other positions–especially quarterback.

Of course, these perspectives are based on my views of them as a writer and film analyst. Take it for what you will.

Download the 2014 Rookie Scouting Portfolio

Friday’s are also my chance to thank you for reading my work, encourage you to follow the RSP blog, and download the Rookie Scouting Portfolio publication.

The RSP is available every April 1 for download. This year’s RSP is nearly 300 pages in the draft guide section and filled with analysis of  164 skill position prospects that has earned a loyal following:

  • Rankings
  • Draft history analysis
  • Overrated/Underrated analysis
  • Multidimensional player comparisons
  • Individual skills analysis by position

You can learn more about the RSP here. If you want to see samples of the play-by-play notes I take to write the analysis, you can find them here. If you want to know what my readers say about it, look here. If you want a quick video tour, here it is:

If you don’t have time to look into details, know that once you look through the RSP, there will be no question in your mind that I do the work, that I have a plan about the work that I do, and that you get more than your money’s worth. It’s why more and more draftniks every spring can’t wait until April 1.

If you think that’s a ton, you ain’t seen nothing. When you purchase the RSP, you also get a free post-draft publication that’s available for download a week after the NFL Draft. Fantasy football owners tell me all the time that this alone is worth the price.

Best yet, 10 percent of each RSP sale is donated to Darkness to Light, a non-profit devoted to preventing and addressing sexual abuse through community training in schools, religious groups, and a variety of civic groups across the U.S.

Here is what the RSP donated to D2L this year. According to D2L, the RSP’s 2013 donation amount was enough to train 250 adults in communities across the country.

Pre-order the 2014 RSP and/or download past versions of the publication (2006-2013).

In Case You Missed It/Coming Soon

  • Futures: Tom Savage – Why magnification exists in NFL scouting and why it demands more vigilant regulation so it doesn’t overshadow important issues.
  • Gruden QB Camp: The Teddy Bridgewater Interview – An experiment with interview analysis, including body language analysis. What’s the deal with Teddy licking his lips?
  • Gruden QB Camp: The Tajh Boyd Interview – Boyd sure likes to tell us he’s a top-three quarterback, but he’s as elusive with criticism as he is in the pocket.
  • Futures: My Expansion Franchise – I’ve just been awarded an NFL expansion team and must build my personnel department. Here’s how I departed from many in the NFL.
  • The Audible Hangout NFL Draft Show – Bloom and I will be hosting shows during the first and second nights of pro football’s annual selection process.
  • The 2014 RSP Writers Project -Sometime after the draft, we’ll get this rolling.

The Thursday Night Audible Hangout

Reads (Football)


Hat-tip to Bryan Zukowski for sending this my way.

 Reads (Life In General)


Another good one from Bryan from this South African group that says so much with who they are and what they do.


3 responses to “Reads Listens Views 5/2/2014 + My Take on MMQB Manziel Roundtable”

  1. “Holmgren’s specific prescriptions for quarterback play as a coach and then his experience as a GM might actually limit his scope on what he believes works and doesn’t work in the NFL. ”

    I think his record as a GM definitely speaks to a limited scope on understanding what works and what doesn’t in the NFL.

  2. The pre-game show here in Detroit was pretty entertaining if you appreciate irony. Charlie Sanders, Lions HOF TE, is now working in Detroit’s pro personnel department. He was asked what he thought of all the hoopla surrounding Johnny Manziel in the upcoming game. He said something nice, but then pointed out Manziel would never be an NFL QB if he did not first become a pocket passer.

    Charlie seems to forget that during his career Fran Tarkenton beat the Lions 11 – 3 in a style that was anything but pocket passing. The best part is Sanders was in all of those games.

    • I will say that I agree with Charlie in the sense that he must be able to manage the pocket with some sense of maturity in addition to do what he does to buy time, but it’s easy to take what a guy like Sanders says and interpret it as forgetting the legacy of Tarkenton. Plus, how you took it might be exactly how he meant it, folks can get close-minded about football.

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