1. Did Manziel fool the Browns?
I saw this point first made by Chris Mortensen of ESPN this week. He said, effectively, that teams like the Cleveland Browns were fooled by Johnny Manziel during the draft interview process. It was a really smart point and one that I ran by several NFL scouts. Those scouts agreed.
Go back in time, to the scouting process, specifically to teams interviewing Manziel. Reports out of the combine were that Manziel interviewed well with many teams during the formal interview process. Manziel didn't interview with the Browns at the combine but did later and supposedly did well in all of his interviews.
This Manziel exchange, reported in Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback after the combine, was typical of how Manziel handled himself, I'm told by scouts:
On Friday night at the combine, the Jacksonville Jaguars had a 15-minute session with Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback. Manziel hadn't met anyone in the room. When he walked in, all the Jaguars coaches and officials stood.
Manziel went to owner Shahid Khan and shook his hand. 'Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Khan. I'm Johnny Manziel.'
Then to his son Tony Khan, a team senior VP. 'Hi Mr. Khan, Johnny Manziel.'
Then to coach Gus Bradley. 'Hi Coach Bradley, pleasure to meet you. Johnny Manziel.'
Then to GM David Caldwell, and then to offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch. All the same: handshake, look 'em in the eye, refer to them by name. He knew them all. Now, he didn't know the scouts in the room, but he knew five men by sight that he'd never met. 'That was impressive,' Caldwell said. 'He did a really nice job in there. He was prepared for the interview, very prepared.'
Manziel came off as a total pro and genuine. He came off as polished without being rehearsed. I can tell you, after his interviews, some teams felt Manziel had turned over a new leaf. They felt convinced he was going to put his party-boy ways behind him and be a professional.
Here's some of what Manziel told King he said to teams:
I've tried to be completely honest with the teams. I was in college. I did some college things with my friends. I had fun, and the thing that I told some team tonight is, my Mom always told me, 'There's a time and a place for everything.' There were points throughout the last year maybe I was a little bit out of that saying. I did things too much and maybe overly aggressive. At the same time, things progressed fast for me. A lot of things were thrown on my plate and pushed into my life, and I really ran with those. To get back to that saying, there's a time and a place for everything. There's a time to have fun, there's a time to work.
As rapidly as everything came along, having to learn from my mistakes, through all the trials and errors, learning from that, and at the same time, I had different obligations than really most anybody has had. I am the only person I know of that had a schedule directly tied with our director of football operations to do whatever it was the school was asking of me. And really I'm incredibly loyal to Texas A&M. It was the school that gave me an opportunity when not a lot of other places did. But I feel like with the media attention I had, the scrutiny, and everything that I went through last year, it directly prepares me for this.
See what Manziel did there? He invoked his mom, talked about learning. It was gorgeous PR.
This is nothing against King, to be clear, who is a great journo; this is about Manziel's ability to be a chameleon, to say what he knows people want to hear.
This is the Eddie Haskell Phenomenon. EHP. You sure look lovely today, Mrs. Cleaver. Then, just after saying that, Haskell would go and steal some kid's lunch money. That's an exaggeration, but you get the point. That's Manziel.
We saw the EHP last week with Manziel. "I'm not the guy that I've always been," he told reporters. "I'm not the Johnny Manziel that came in here a year ago. It's been a year of growing up for me."
See what Manziel did there? He invoked learning, growing up. Key words. Buzzwords that he knows have worked for him in the past. Words he knows will fool. Then came the kicker quote: "This is a job for me now, and I have to take it a lot more seriously than maybe I did at first."
Oh, he's good. Really good.
Of course, just a week after he said that, Manziel was late for medical treatment.
It should be noted that when Manziel interviewed with teams at the combine, some saw through him. They didn't believe him. They were able to see through his act. Teams like the Browns could not. He suckered them.
So here we are. Whenever Manziel says he will try harder or be more accountable or be more mature, just remember the Eddie Haskell Phenomenon. The EHP. Just remember Manziel can't be believed.
Oh, and remember, this wasn't the first time Manziel "overslept."
2. Browns almost certainly will look for another quarterback
The Browns are leaning heavily this way. What I can say with great certainty is the coaching staff doesn't trust Johnny Manziel. Not saying they never will, but it's to the point that coaches there don't want to put their careers and livelihood into Manziel's hands. Can't say that I blame them.
Browns general manager Ray Farmer said at a press conference Tuesday:
Translation: They will be looking for a franchise thrower.
So don't be stunned if the Browns make a move in the draft to get a quarterback—even picking one high in the proceedings—and add yet another name to this infamous jersey:
3. 49ers press conference
It was remarkable how much the San Francisco 49ers brass talking about their breakup with Jim Harbaugh reminded me of when Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson parted ways. Superficially, everything was great and lovely and respectful. Nothing to see. Flowers and roses. Kisses. Bro hugs.
But Johnson left because he and Jones had stopped getting along. Despite Johnson and Jones acting nice publicly, that of course wasn't the case. It was not all cupcakes and apple pie. That's the same in this case. There was great tension between Harbaugh and the front office. Great tension. Despite the 49ers saying otherwise.
And just like Jimmy and Jerry, the truth of their relationship emerged later. That will be the case with Harbaugh.
4. Harbaugh trade
Last thing on the 49ers. CEO Jed York made it clear that a team or teams inquired about trading for Harbaugh. The question becomes: Which team or teams?
And there was this from a veteran Seattle player, who said he was glad Harbaugh was gone. "One of the biggest threats to us is in college now."
5. 49ers and alcohol
No, seriously, this is the last 49ers note. This quote from York was, well, absolutely fascinating: "We need to make sure we are much better with alcohol on this team."
What? There was no further explanation or clarification. That one will also be interesting to watch.
6. Beckham dominance
|Beckham down the stretch|
Stat that still boggles the mind, via the NFL: Odell Beckham Jr.'s ninth straight game with at least 90 yards receiving tied him with Michael Irvin.
Beckham and Irvin are the only two players in NFL history to do that. Think about that. The only two. That is how special Beckham is, and he's only just getting started.
7. Bears make smart move
The hiring of Ernie Accorsi as a consultant by Chicago is one of the smartest moves any team has made in the coaching-search period so far.
Accorsi is easily one of the smartest football people (smartest people, period, really) I've ever known. He made the bold move of trading for Eli Manning during the 2004 NFL draft, a move that helped lead the New York Giants to two Super Bowl wins.
Accorsi was the GM of the Browns in the 1980s and '90s, and if it wasn't for the heroics of a man named John Elway, the Browns might have won several Super Bowls. The Bears are in good hands.
8. Harbaugh will win a national title
And he will do it soon, maybe in three years. He's that good. Bill Belichick is the best coach I've ever seen, best in history to me, and Harbaugh is not far behind him.
He'll push the Michigan players to their breaking point, get the most out of them quickly, then build the talent. This process of restoring Michigan won't take seven years. Won't take five. The transformation will be fast and furious.
Then, as has happened everywhere else Harbaugh has coached, he will burn out many people around him, and then he'll be gone. This is the Harbaugh methodology. This is why he wins, and this is why he bolts.
So Michigan will get its title, Harbaugh will kick Urban Meyer's ass, and then he'll be gone. Probably back to the NFL.
9. Dan Snyder's legacy
It continues to be horrible. The Washington team finished in last place in the NFC East for the sixth time in seven years. It was the eighth last-place finish in the past 11 years. Also, Washington's nine double-digit losses were tied for most in NFL with the Tennessee Titans.
Excellent work, Dan.
10. Le'Veon Bell's status
I'm told the same thing that ESPN first reported: It's not impossible that Bell plays in the team's Wild Card Game against Baltimore on Saturday. But it's looking highly questionable. At best.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.