Texans have to take Manziel


I was right about Tim Tebow and I will be right on a much higher level about Johnny Manziel.

What Tebow kept pulling off late in games for the 2011 Denver Broncos, Manziel will make happen for all four quarters of NFL games. Manziel has Tebow's miracle-making will, electrified by far more quickness, speed, accuracy, radar and football IQ. Manziel has Tebow's rare intangibles heightened by rarer tangibles.

Tebow was a phenomenon. Manziel will be a perennial Pro Bowler, a Michael Vick fully capable of picking you to pieces from the pocket.

So please do not say I now have my "new Tebow." That's an insult to Manziel. I wrote a year ago that Manziel already was operating on a higher level than Tebow ever had -- after Manziel won the Heisman Trophy in his first year as a college starter, breaking Cam Newton's single-season SEC total offense record in two fewer games. Now, Manziel makes Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater look like just guys.

Next season, Manziel will have the same national impact on some lucky city that Tebow did on Denver and its Broncos in 2011. And it will last.

Before Tebow's draft, I said I would take him late in the first round. Josh McDaniels, then Denver's coach, took him 25th. I said Tebow would never make a Pro Bowl, but that he would win games as a starting quarterback if given a chance in his college spread option offense.

Only one team did: a desperate 1-4 Denver, the year after McDaniels was fired.

Tebow led the Broncos to the AFC West title -- and the NFL team rushing title -- and beat Pittsburgh in a playoff game with a play for the ages, an 80-yard overtime touchdown pass. All Tebow did that season was have the NFL's best QBR in the final five minutes of games. Onward, Christian soldier.


Yet, after the Broncos landed Peyton Manning and traded Tebow to the Jets, he never got a chance to play quarterback. He lost confidence, visited his third or fourth independent passing coach, began to think too much about what had come so instinctively and regressed as a passer in his one preseason with New England.

This is how much better Manziel is: The Houston Texans, with this year's No. 1 overall pick, will forever regret it if they don't take the Texas kid with the movie-title nickname, Johnny Football.

Manziel built his legend at Texas A&M, just an hour-and-a-half drive from Reliant Stadium. About 300,000 A&M alums live in Houston, according to Manziel's QB coach, George Whitfield Jr. Johnny Football, the most electrifying college football player I ever saw, was born to win Super Bowls in Houston.

Manziel, with his infectious It Factor, would immediately turn the Texans into the It Team. They've been just a quarterback away for three seasons --  Matt Schaub completed lots of passes, but never THE pass. Manziel would soon make every player in that locker room -- and every fan in that stadium -- believe the Texans finally had a star who would make THE play. With Manziel next season, the Texans would go from 2-14 to 10-6.

If I ran the Texans, and Bill O'Brien, who has never been head coach for a down of NFL football, dug in and concluded Manziel was too short and too Hollywood and too headstrong for him, I'd thank my new coach and fire him. Manziel is far, far more valuable.

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