Monday, April 7, 2014
Does Manziel fit new Raiders paradigm?
By Paul Gutierrez
Johnny Manziel visiting the Oakland Raiders, per ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, makes all the sense in the world. It also makes no sense whatsoever.
That's how polarizing and transcendent a figure the artist known as Johnny Football is to the NFL.
On one hand, why wouldn't the playmaker-starved Raiders, who hold the No. 5 overall pick in May's draft, do their due diligence on Manziel?
Since the Raiders' last playoff game, Super Bowl XXXVII on Jan. 26, 2003, Oakland has had 17 starting quarterbacks -- Rich Gannon, Rick Mirer, Kerry Collins, Marques Tuiasosopo, Aaron Brooks, Andrew Walter, Josh McCown, Daunte Culpepper, JaMarcus Russell, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye, Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller, Carson Palmer, Terrelle Pryor, Matt Flynn and Matt McGloin -- so there has been a serious lack of continuity under center. Matt Schaub, acquired in a trade for a sixth-round draft pick last month, will be No. 18 this season.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, the Cleveland Browns have also had 17 starters since 2003 and the Miami Dolphins have had 15, with the Raiders' 180 passing touchdowns since then an NFL low.
So the Raiders could use an infusion of excitement and longevity from the likes of Manziel, who many observers compare to Fran Tarkenton, even if his slight stature warrants concern regarding his reckless-abandon playing style.
Which brings us to the flip side of things ...
In acquiring Schaub and identifying McGloin as a backup, and -- as general manager Reggie McKenzie said at the NFL owners meetings -- with Pryor most likely having played his final game for Oakland, the Raiders seem to be building something that Manziel does not fit into.
It is obvious coach Dennis Allen prefers more of a pure, dropback-style quarterback, like Schaub and McGloin. Manziel, like Pryor, is anything but a prototypical QB.
With Manziel's immense popularity, the Raiders drafting him might set Schaub up for failure. Consider that Schaub suffered a crisis of confidence last season in Houston that grew exponentially with every interception. No doubt impatient fans would scream for Manziel the first time Schaub threw an interception, fostering an unhealthy environment.
Like it or loathe it, the Raiders picked up Schaub to be their franchise quarterback for at least the next two seasons, as Schaub restructuring his contract can make him a free agent after 2015, per reports.
Allen, a Texas A&M alum, has a unique perspective on the Heisman Trophy-winning Manziel, who has also reportedly visited the New England Patriots. Allen might know best how Manziel would deal with the prospect of sitting and not becoming a distraction.
Sure, the Raiders should kick the tires on Manziel by bringing him in for a visit because the biggest question that might be answered in a stopover is this: Does Manziel fit into what McKenzie and Allen are building?
It makes sense, unless it doesn't.