Johnny Manziel joined Jon Gruden for ESPN’s Sunday Conversation leading up to the Browns clash with the Redskins on Monday. The interview followed the normal Gruden interview trajectory with the Super Bowl winning coach asking Johnny some generic questions, followed by a Gruden favorite, having Manziel call a play from his new offense.
Manziel bashfully, muttered out a bunch of verbiage which on the surface seemed to suffice Gruden’s request, but did the play Johnny call make any football sense?
Chris Cooley, former Redskins tight end who played in Kyle Shanahan’s offense in Washington, wasn’t buying it. In a guest hosting spot on ESPN Radio’s SVP and Russilo on Thursday afternoon, Cooley exposed Manziel’s “play call” to Gruden as a bunch of nonsensical words strung together without any real meaning.
“Jibber jabber. It means nothing. He used all lingo from that offense but it does’t form a sentence. If offense is a language that is supposed to tie together, that doesn’t fit. You’re bootlegging right with your tight end on the left, running a corner route while also sifting across the line. You’re tight end is doing two things. Your Z is supposed to slide across with your bootleg but he is split all the way outside the numbers. He just made up words […] none of it made any sense.”
Mastering the offense is one of the most critical aspects to being a successful quarterback in the NFL, while it also one of the greatest challenges. Cooley went on to speak with Van Pelt about the difficulty quarterbacks have coming from the college game where offenses are simplified to the pro’s where they reach a whole new level of complexity.
In the college game, coaches have a limited amount of time for implementation and defenses have limited amounts of time to dissect those offenses. That’s why you’ve seen the popularity of the giant play cards made famous at Oregon and Auburn, but in the pro’s these guys have all the time in the world to work which leads to more complex offenses and defenses.
Cooley elaborated on the expectations people have for quarterbacks from Manziel’s offensive background coming into an NFL pro-style offense.
“I don’t think you can expect him to understand it. You could give him a wristband. In the game he gets a speaker into his helmet and the offensive coordinator would repeat it and it would be up to him to thus repeat it into the huddle. But without a good grasp of the moving parts going in the right places, that’s an issue. You’re just out there flim flaming.”
An NFL playbook is no doubt a place of complexity, but that doesn’t mean simple concepts can’t work in the league as well. Bill Bellicek famously sought Chip Kelly’s help while still at Oregon to install a hurry up offense in which saying one word would let the whole offense know which assignment to run. Kelly has since brought some of these concepts to Philadelphia where his Eagles had the second most yards in the league last year behind Peyton Manning’s Broncos.
Cooley also clued Van Pelt in on some of the success they had in Washington during Robert Griffin’s rookie season. The former Redskins’ tight end claimed they completed 82 passes for over 1000 yards all off of the same play action pass. With Griffin a threat to run on every play it engaged the 11th defender on the field who is otherwise unaccounted for and opened up running lanes for Alfred Morris and then room over the top on play action.
As for the offense in Cleveland, schemed by Kyle Shanahan, Cooley added,
“I betcha Rex Grossman could call a play. He’s awesome to hang out with, he’s smart, he’s a dude.
(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)