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Johnny Manziel says he ‘didn’t really know the Xs and Os’ coming out of Texas A&M

Seems kind of important.

Mississippi State v Texas A&M Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Former Texas A&M and Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is attempting to make a comeback in the NFL. A couple months after revealing he is now sober and wants a chance to get back in the league, his series of interviews and appearances have continued,

On Wednesday, Manziel appeared on The Dan Patrick Show, where he was asked what he would do if he was given a mulligan, where he revealed his lack of preparation from a the standpoint of running an offense:

“If you would have given me a mulligan, the mulligan would have come right after I got drafted” Manziel said. “I see a successful guy in the NFL in what they do in the offseason, and the time that they put in that makes them good players. yes, they’re athletically gifted but guys are good in the NFL because they know film, they study hard, and they work even harder in the offseason. I didn’t know that. If Cleveland did any of their homework, they would have known that I was a guy that didn’t come in every day and watch film. I was a guy that didn’t really know the Xs and Os of football.”

“I played in a spread offense,” Manziel continued. “We looked at bubbles, we looked at flats, we had progression reads across the field — it wasn’t like it was a super intricate pro system. So when I get to Cleveland, we have a quarterback in the room that’s not helping me, and its not really his job to but nobody was there, like helping me go over the Xs and Os, and it was hard. I struggled.”

Manziel expanded on his comments on Twitter:

First and foremost, the first brunt of the blame here falls on Manziel’s shoulders — work ethic isn’t something you can coach. And well, the Browns didn’t exactly do that much homework here.

To be fair, running a spread offense, especially the one Kevin Sumlin and his offensive coordinators Jake Spavital and Kliff Kingsbury ran while Manziel was an Aggie, is far from a pro-style scheme. And this isn’t a knock on the spread translating to the NFL either — there are NFL offenses which are thriving by borrowing elements of the spread, like the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. Quarterbacks like Marcus Mariota, Drew Brees, and Dak Prescott played in versions of spread-heavy offenses in college.

Yes, some of not knowing Xs and Os falls partly on Manziel’s shoulders. But some of this falls on Sumlin and his staff, too. As spread architect Hal Mumme once said when discussing the lack of prepared QBs in the league that run spread in college, that’s more of a coach than player problem:

Mumme thinks back to a conversation he had with an NFL evaluator at a golf course last year.


He asked me why there’s no quarterbacks — meaning, coming out for the NFL. I go, ‘Whaddya mean there’s no quarterbacks? There’s some great quarterbacks coming out.’ He goes, ‘Well, no, there’s none of ‘em that can just take a snap and drop back seven steps and throw it.’ I go, ‘Well, maybe you need new coaches, not new quarterbacks.’

Sumlin has since been hired at Arizona, where his high-flying offense has a good chance of being successful in the Pac-12. He isn’t a bad coach, by any means, and isn’t entirely to blame for what Manziel said. All it comes down to here is that as far as coaching quarterbacks who want to go to the NFL goes, an emphasis on watching film and learning a playbook would be a good idea.

Check out the full interview between Manziel and Patrick below: