The possible payoff for ESPN hardly if ever mentioning that curious photo of Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel with a rolled-up bill was an exclusive sit-down with Manziel as a Monday night game at Washington approaches.
The much-hyped “Sunday Conversation” between Manziel and Jon Gruden, who loudly lobbied for someone/anyone to draft Manziel as he slid down the board in round one, debuted on Sunday morning’s SportsCenter. And it consisted of five questions.
One dealt with playing against Robert Griffin III, which doesn’t really matter since it’s a preseason game. One dealt with Manziel balancing the decision between staying in the pocket and running. One dealt with the differences between the no-huddle, little-if-any playbook at Texas A&M and Kyle Shanahan’s far more complex system in Cleveland.
“It’s way different,” Manziel said. “Going from never huddling at all at A&M, where we’d run as many plays as we can. Almost turbo, 24/7 for us. And then come in, we’re in a huddle, you have a different cadence, you have [pass] protections, you have a way, way, way thicker playbook. And it’s just different. And I think the things that we’re doing here, I like the concepts that we have, I like the offensive scheme that we have. I think Kyle has done a good job of helping ease me in and get comfortable as this process has gone on.”
Then came the perfunctory football jargon portion of the interview, during which Gruden asked Manziel to make a real play call and he obliged, sort of. Next, Gruden wanted Manziel to translate a call from another system to Shanahan’s system. Few watching the interview understood; fewer cared.
And that was it. Nothing more. Nothing like, “Should you be the starter?” Or, “Will you be the starter?” Or, “What will you do if Coach Pettine pulls you aside and says, ‘Johnny, you’ll be starting Week One at Pittsburgh’? I mean, we’re talking about the Pittsburgh Steelers here, Johnny. The Steel Curtain. Johnny. You ready for that, Johnny? Are ya, Johnny?”
Gruden likewise didn’t ask how Manziel plans to keep himself from being blown to smithereens when executing a designed run and putting his head down and diving into a phalanx of Steelers. Which means that an opportunity to strike at the heart of the on-field concerns regarding Manziel’s NFL career was lost in a haze of Spider Two Y Banana.