Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M is known as “Johnny Football,” but Teddy Bridgewater fans think their hero should be called “Teddy Football.” Many say Manziel will very likely be picked first overall in the upcoming NFL draft. Some experts, though, see Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater as having the better chance of success in the big league. Bridgewater backers agree. In fact, some Teddy Bridgewater fans ask ‘Johnny Who?’
It is a fair question. Johnny Manziel is well-known for winning the Heisman Trophy as a freshman and setting numerous NCAA records. Teddy Bridgewater fans, though, point to the fact that he ranked in the top five FBS quarterbacks in total completion percentage and touchdown-to-completion ratio. They add that he threw only four interceptions in 427 pass attempts. A number of NFL scouts think Louisville fans are right in touting their quarterback, saying that Bridgewater excels in areas where Manziel is thought to be weak.
For one thing, at Louisville Bridgewater’s Cardinals operated a pro-style, progressive-read offense. At Texas A&M, Manziel was often accused of playing his own offense, not stepping back into the pocket and making it difficult for his linemen to block. He also was said to weak in selling the play-option pass, relying too much on the run and bolting from the pocket at the hint of a hard rush.
Fans say Bridgewater, on the other hand, seems poised in the pocket. Scouts say he reads the field well and runs through his receivers as an NFL quarterback would. They say his footwork is good and his throwing motion is smooth. Reports say that at six-feet-one, Manziel has trouble seeing over his taller offensive linemen. Only an inch taller, Bridgewater does not seem to have that problem. While the difference in the men’s height is small, football is known as a game of inches. There are more reasons, though, that Teddy Bridgewater fans ask ‘Johnny Who?’
Bridgewater is known to read defenses well and throw accurately to an open receiver. At the same time, Manziel is criticized for throwing the ball high and hoping one of his tall receivers catches it. Scouts say he depends too much on the height and play-making ability of star Aggies receiver Mike Evans.
Both quarterbacks are known for their tenacity, and desire to win. Scouts say Manziel is an “exceptional game-day competitor” who “rises to the occasion.” In the Chick-fil-A Bowl he led his team back from a 21 point halftime deficit to defeat Duke. Bridgewater is called an exceptional competitor who is both physically and mentally tough. In the 2012 Big East championship game he came off the bench with a broken left wrist and sprained ankle to captain the Cardinals to a come-from-behind win.
The biggest difference between the two quarterbacks is in the intangibles. Manziel is said to be arrogant and aloof, unable to inspire his teammates with words. Scouts say Bridgewater is a leader who plays like a coach on the field, knowing the responsibilities of his teammates and calling on them to deliver. He is smart and determined at his very young age of 21. Critics accuse Manziel of caring more about off-the-field activities. Scouts say Bridgewater loves football, takes it seriously and works hard at it. As a result, they say, he has gotten better year after year.
Both Manziel and Bridgewater are great college players projected to go high in the first round of NFL drafting. The fact is, more than half the teams at the top of the drafting order are looking for quarterbacks. If he goes first, Manziel will become a Houston Texan. Some say Bridgewater would fit best with the pro offenses run by the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Cleveland Browns. Come May 8, Johnny Manziel may be the top pick. But for now, Teddy Bridgewater Fans Ask ‘Johnny Who?’
Commentary by B. David Warner