The week that was in the always unpredictable life of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel:
- Thumbs up for sure on Johnny Football's postgame handling of a convincing, 34-10 loss to LSU last week. Manziel showed the proper amount of respect for LSU's effort, wasn't hesitant to take his share of responsibility for the loss, and gave a thoughtful and measured answer to every question. In short, he was humble, a trait some may have thought him incapable of. He did much the same after losses to Alabama and Auburn.
So what makes this one any different?
For one thing, he played poorly. As much as any loss bothers a competitor like Manziel, it's easier to talk about when you've just blistered the opponent for more than 500 total yards, as he did in those previous losses. Not quite as easy when you've just turned in your only stinker performance of the season. It's safe to say Manziel is well-polished in the postgame setting after a loss. And if he's drafted by a bad NFL team, that skill may come in handy often. If you missed Manziel's comments, check out the video:
- Up and gone. TAMU coach Kevin Sumlin, who was quoted from a radio show saying that Manziel would announce whether he is leaving college early for the NFL prior to the Aggies' bowl game, backed off that stance earlier this week. But really, Kev, can't we just get the charade over with? Does anyone expect him to stay? Does anyone think he'd be smart to stay? If Manziel plays at Texas A&M next year it will be the biggest circus in Texas sports since ... well, since the Cowboys.
The point is, there is little, if anything, Manziel can do to improve his NFL standing with another year in college. NFL clubs concerned about his size would have the same concern a year later. Those concerned about his off-field decisions, even if he were to manage a relatively quiet junior year, would likely carry those concerns forward, anyway.
- No doubt, the aforementioned performance against LSU is about as down as it gets for Johnny Football. A few firsts:
» It was the first road loss of Manziel's TAMU career.
» It was his first time completing less than 50 percent of his passes all season.
» It was a season-low point total (10) for the Aggies, by a margin of 31 points.
And with that, Manziel's bubble of invincibility has burst.
- And so has, more than likely, his chance at a second consecutive Heisman Trophy. Florida State's Jameis Winston might lose votes due to a pending legal matter that could result in a criminal charge, but we don't know if it will cost him the race.
If it does, there is no guarantee Manziel would be the candidate in position to take advantage. Manziel won the Heisman last year, deservedly, for who he was and how he played. But this year, his campaign was always going to need to be bolstered by an increased win total to separate it from the pack. And three losses -- potentially four -- are not going to carry the day.
As poorly as Manziel played against the Tigers, his two-year body of work is too great a piece of art to cost him much of any standing in NFL circles. At least that was the take this week from NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks:
Manziel by the numbers
» Johnny Football's completion rate for the season dropped to less than 70 percent with the loss to LSU (69.1).
» Manziel can all but forget about a second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season (he's at 665 with two games to play), but he might still reach 1,000 in rushing yards gained. What's the difference? In college ball, unlike the NFL, sack yardage is recorded as negative rushing yardage. As such, he has 812 rushing yards gained for the season (not counting sacks). With Missouri and a bowl game left to go, it's within reach.
Five NFL clubs (the Browns, Bears, Cardinals, Rams and Buccaneers) are expected to send scouts to what is expected to be Manziel's final regular-season college game -- Saturday's battle at Missouri. But with no fewer than seven significant NFL prospects involved in the contest, don't assume they're all there for the Johnny Football Show. Two offensive tackles and two defensive ends in the game could be pro-bound as early as next spring. Meanwhile, here is how each of those teams rank in passing yards per game: Bears (seventh), Cardinals (12th), Browns (15th), Rams (23rd), Bucs (29th).