And there was a stubborn, smitten writer whose name rhymes with Schmichael Schmand who wrote things like I am “confident Manziel will be the most productive of the quarterbacks drafted this year. Whether he does it purple, of course, remains to be seen.”
I say with no degree of irony that we still don’t have a final scorecard in this two-man fight. Manziel is still flawed in many ways, but he’s also still talented and was in an awful situation in Cleveland. Bridgewater, on the other hand, could not have had much more stability than he found in Minnesota. (And yes, both players were also responsible for helping cultivate that stability and/or lack thereof).
But I also say now with no degree of hesitation that, obviously, that every scorecard shows Bridgewater winning by a landslide at this point.
For whatever questions remain about Bridgewater going forward — everything from nitpicks to real concerns — he is in a position now where he is trying to get himself and his team to the next level.
In his second NFL season, he was an average NFL quarterback playing behind a well-below-average offensive line, and he did the things he was asked to do on the way to an 11-win season, a division title and the verge of a playoff victory. The offense needs to be better. Bridgewater needs to be better. But what he was this season was good for now.
Manziel, by contrast, is not looking for another level. He’s reportedly looking for another team based on the hiring of Hue Jackson as Cleveland’s head coach and Jackson’s desire to move on from the Manziel Era. That shouldn’t be surprising, since Manziel basically lived up to every pre-draft red flag off the field while also proving inconsistent on the field.
With any luck, both QBs will find their ways into better situations in 2016: Bridgewater with more protection, Manziel with less dysfunction.
If so, I have a feeling the next two years will probably tell us more about their long-term futures than their first two years.