The first night of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Eagles were sitting pretty at No. 22. Teddy Bridgewater, Dee Ford, Darqueze Dennard and the ever-popular Johnny Manziel were still on the board. Half of the team's fanbase wanted to draft a pass rusher or a defensive back, while the others felt like Manziel was too good to pass up.
The Eagles squashed the debate in dramatic fashion by passing on all of the above and trading back to No. 26 while adding a quality Day 2 pick, which allowed the Browns to capture the rights to Manziel. The team selected Marcus Smith II with their new pick, which was met with a careless overreaction of his lack of credentials. Perhaps, the fan and media angst was due to the passing on Manziel, who unlike the Eagles current quarterback Nick Foles, has flash and bravado.
Flash forward two months later and you can understand why the Eagles passed on the "charming" prospect. Manziel has "alarmed" the Browns organization with his behavior since the draft (and this is an organization run by a man who was under investigation by the FBI), according to Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Kabot. There is also a feeling in the Browns locker room that Manziel will likely loses out to Brian Hoyer for the starting quarterback position, according to ESPN's Bob Holtzman.
While all of this is pretty bad press, it doesn't mean Manziel will be a bust or anything close to that. Having said that though, if Manziel can't beat a career backup coming off a brutal knee injury (torn ACL), then how could he have been expected to even come close Foles in a training camp battle after having one of the best seasons in NFL history last season?
Maybe Manziel will quit his shenanigans moving forward and become a sensation in the NFL, but right now he has become a nuisance for a new coaching staff and front office. While Chip Kelly recruited him and has a year of NFL experience under his belt, it's hard to say that he would put up with the off-the-field fun. For an example, look at what happened earlier this season with DeSean Jackson, who would be considered boring by Manziel's summer standards.
Philadelphia Magazine writer Buzz Bissinger made this point in his now-infamous article on Foles:
But there’s still an aura of softness about [Foles], no fire. Maybe it’s the hee-haw face. Maybe it’s the stream of selfless platitudes about others. Maybe it’s that at 25, he’s still very much a boy among men with the Eagles, with no interest in the extracurricular world of clubbing. Or maybe it’s the reality that if he fails in football, he has the likely cushion of going into an enormously successful family business. It’s the intangible hunger factor that appears to be missing.
That paragraph stands out when thinking about Manziel as well. It seems that Foles and Manziel are polar opposites despite both having growing up with wealthy families in Texas. Sure, Manziel was a significantly more successful college player with heaping helpings of media coverage, but Foles now plays in a Top 10 market for one of the league's most popular franchises with the toughest media around. That said, even with the aggressive media coverage surrounding Foles, you don't hear a thing about his personal life outside of some really lame tweets and his marriage (and he was the one that broke that news). He is never a distraction, unless he is holding up a Dr. Seuss book. As a leader, he allows the team to focus.
The Eagles likely passed on Manziel because he didn't fit their philosophies and the summer fun that the former Texas A&M star has had proves that. Like it or not, Foles seems to be the guy that works for the temperament of a team that Kelly coaches. With that said, it looks like some reporters should stick to writing desperate slam pieces and not evaluating quarterback talent.