Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Little precedent for Manziel-Turner match
By Ben Goessling
MINNEAPOLIS -- Since Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer made his much-discussed comments about the "sideshow" at Johnny Manziel's pro day and the "flags" that come up with the ballyhooed Texas A&M quarterback, there have been plenty of attempts (on this blog and others) to discern what it could mean for the chances of the Vikings taking Manziel with the eighth pick in the May draft.
But Manziel's compatibility with offensive coordinator Norv Turner's scheme might be worth just as much of a look as whether he would click with Zimmer.
For our purposes, the nice thing about Turner is, he's got 23 seasons of experience as a head coach or offensive coordinator that can be used to evaluate his team's tendencies. And in Turner's time with the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns, there simply isn't a template for a quarterback like Manziel.
In Turner's 23 seasons as a head coach or coordinator, he's never had a quarterback run for more than 192 yards in a season, and that came with the diminutive Doug Flutie in 2001. In the nine times Turner's had one of the top 10 scoring offenses in the league, his quarterbacks have run 41, 49, 28, 28, 40, 31, 35, 35 and 31 times, counting kneel-downs at the end of games. In two 13-game seasons at Texas A&M, Manziel ran 201 and 144 times, for 1,410 and 759 yards. There will be plenty of NFL teams who will ask him to curtail his scrambling somewhat, partially to reduce the number of unnecessary hits he'll absorb. But if you draft Manziel, you're doing so in part because of his ability to improvise and make plays with his feet, and you're doing so knowing he's probably going to take some extra sacks in the process. It's hard to see a coordinator as established as Turner playing his type that much, especially when quarterbacks like Blake Bortles, Derek Carr and Zach Mettenberger (with whom the Vikings will meet tomorrow) would seem like more logical fits.
This isn't to say the Vikings won't take Manziel a month from tonight if he's still available with the eighth overall pick. But like we discussed in regard to Zimmer's comments last week, Manziel might have to clear some pretty high thresholds for the Vikings to be convinced he's their guy. If he is wearing purple come May 8, it'll be because he answered whatever concerns Zimmer might have and proved he can fit in Turner's offense when there really isn't a precedent for a quarterback like him doing so.