Souhan: Zimmer must decide if Manziel can play, even if he's unorthodox

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 4, 2014 - 11:31 AM

The 2012 Heisman winner likes a good time; will he be a great QB?

hide

New Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer answers a question during a media availability at Winter Park in Eden Prairie, Minn., Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. Zimmer is the ninth head coach in the Vikings franchise history.(AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Usually when we meet a new Vikings coach, we ask for honesty.

My first hope for Mike Zimmer is a little different. I hope he’s lying.

We don’t know enough about Zimmer to know what to make of his critical comments about Johnny Manziel, but because of them we might know a lot more about Zimmer in five weeks.

We might know then whether Zimmer prides himself on being an old-school taskmaster who can’t stomach a flamboyant personality. Or we might find out that Zimmer was willing to lie to hide his true intentions.

Maybe the Vikings won’t have the opportunity to draft Manziel, but if they do have a chance to select him and they pass on him, we will know that Zimmer was being honest when he criticized Manziel. If the Vikings take Manziel, we will know Zimmer was fibbing.

I’m not sure which would be worse.

Zimmer separated himself from other coaching candidates because of his ability to extract value from troubled or underachieving players. He has done so as a defensive coordinator. As a head coach, he likely dreams of a prototypical quarterback with a prototypical personality. Everyone wants someone like Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck, whose refined skills are surpassed by obsessive work habits.

Most NFL teams have to find an alternative path. The Vikings need to find a young quarterback who can succeed even if he doesn’t remind anyone of Manning or Luck. They need to find their own Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick or Nick Foles.

Manziel isn’t a sure thing. He’s not big. He often prefers scrambling to reading defenses. But while the NFL loves prototypes, the league too often ignores outliers.

Wilson is an undersized, scrambling quarterback. Kaepernick is a sprinter who can throw. The current iteration of Peyton Manning lacks arm strength, as did Joe Montana in his prime. Fran Tarkenton’s scrambling would have been considered a negative if he were coming out of college today.

Brett Favre was once traded because he partied too much, and then he partied all over Wisconsin while winning a Super Bowl. Joe Namath wore pantyhose and thoroughly enjoyed Manhattan’s late closing hours.

There are quarterbacks in the NFL Hall of Fame who were drunks and jerks, and for every prototype who became a winner there are two oddities who won just as much.

If Zimmer doubts Manziel’s abilities, he should say so. If he is downgrading Manziel because he listens to Drake and wants to hang out with LeBron, Zimmer is making a mistake.

For his first calendar year as a national phenomenon, Manziel was a pain in the hip pad.

What happened in his second year, after an offseason of partying and using the Heisman Trophy to open velvet ropes? He played even better. Facing SEC defenses that had spent the summer devising game plans to stop him, facing remarkable pressure for a college kid, Manziel completed a higher percentage of his passes for more yards and touchdowns while taking fewer sacks and running less.

Would Manziel be the first player at Winter Park and the last to leave? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe in the future. As a young player, Favre was highly undisciplined. As a veteran, he would take game films home and watch them. He didn’t pride himself on office hours. He threw for more yards than any quarterback ever.

Dan Marino lasted until the 27th pick in the 1983 draft because of rumors that he had a drug problem.

Vikings history is littered with young players who were considered problematic and offered great value, including Randy Moss, Cris Carter and Percy Harvin. The last time the Vikings ditched a quarterback because he seemed smaller than a prototype, Rich Gannon later emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New Orleans 28 FINAL
Carolina 10
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 105 FINAL
Orlando 98
Detroit 91 FINAL
Minnesota 97
New York 95 FINAL
Cleveland 90
Utah 102 FINAL
Dallas 120
Oklahoma City 69 4th Qtr 8:29
LA Clippers 77
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Buffalo 2
Winnipeg 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Chicago 5 FINAL(SO)
Ottawa 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Arizona 1 FINAL
Florida 2
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 4
Anaheim 0 FINAL
St. Louis 2
NY Islanders 0 FINAL
Colorado 5
Montreal 2 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:02 PM
Memphis
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close