Mac Engel

May 10, 2014

Why Jerry Football passed on Johnny Football

The numbers that mattered — 5-11 3/4 — kept Johnny Manziel from becoming a Dallas Cowboy.

The “best quarterback” in the draft dropped to 22 because of numbers, and many moons later you will thank God that Jerry Jones acknowledged the stats that mattered.

Five. Eleven. Three-fourths. Alone, those numbers are OK. When they’re attached to a QB, they are poison.

The first round was Jerry Football at his draft-day best. He didn’t clear the room. He didn’t lean on an ex-scout from East Arkansas to tell him what he wanted to hear. Jerry may love stars more than US Weekly, but he knows by now it’s better to not be wrong — and that little guys usually get killed in the NFL.

Johnny Manziel may have Godzilla-sized hands, but his height of 5-11 3/4 is what cost him. This is the reason so many other teams passed on him.

If you thought Mr. Football looked a tad small running around Kyle Field, he will look a lot like former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy — who was listed at 6-foot-1 — when he puts on a Browns uniform.

Proponents of Mr. Football insist that if Russell Wilson and Drew Brees can do it, so too will Manziel. Join reality — Brees and Wilson are the aberrations.

Maybe Manziel can do what Brees or Wilson does, but the better bet is to accept that he will be more like fellow first-round little guys Michael Vick and Rex Grossman.

Both of those too-short guys were first-round picks who have played a long time and made a bunch of money. Neither has been especially special.

Jerry doesn’t want boring out of his QB, and neither do you.

The other number Jerry is stuck on is the six-year, $108 million extension he gave Romo last season that kicks in this season. Even if Romo can’t play, the cap hits for this deal until 2019 are so big — more than $20 million each year — there was no way not to stay with him.

The Cowboys need “not misses” rather than to gamble big on a little guy whom the numbers say will not be the star he was in College Station.

Mr. Football’s numbers in college were beautiful, but 5-11 3/4 is what eventually cost him.

Batting .500

As the Texas Rangers sputter, cough, sprain and wheeze their way through the first month-plus of the season, all the signs of a .500 team that were evident in Surprise, Ariz., have surfaced in Arlington.

The bottom five of the batting order is, as manager Ron Washington told me, “a mess.”

The pitching staff is still out of whack, so to be right around .500 should be a relief.

The Rangers officially lead the big leagues with players on the disabled list — 11 — and unofficially lead the league in big-salaried hitters not hitting.

“Partially, it is injuries, but some of our big guys have struggled, pitching and offensively,” Rangers GM Jon Daniels said late in the week.

Elvis Andrus has looked lost at the plate at times. We are still waiting on Prince Fielder to show up. Adrian Beltre is hovering around .250. The left-field position is nothing, the same at catcher, and now second base is once again manned by another Double A kid who just got here.

Only Shin-Soo Choo and Alex Rios are hitting. Pitching is the same thing.

“We are probably right about where we should be — a .500 club if you look at everything at this point,” Daniels said. “I think we are better than that, long term. Right now, it’s about right.”

The long season, plus the addition of more playoff spots, has changed the break-glass-in-case-of-emergency switch for every club. But there are plenty of things to be worried about.

“I don’t have a date; it’s more of a feel,” JD said. “All of these [injured] guys are coming back.”

Wash has a date — two-plus months. By that point, both the hitters and pitchers will have had enough at-bats and innings pitched to have an idea of what kind of season they will have.

Right now, they’re lucky to be stationed around .500.

Bring back Tyson

Tyson Chandler is entering the final year of his contract with the Knicks, and new boss Phil Jackson allegedly wants to clear cap room.

The Mavs need a rim protector, and there is a deal to be made here.

The one prediction the Mavs hit on after Chandler left in 2011 for New York was that he would not hold up: He missed 16 games two years ago and 27 this season.

But Chandler is only 31, would be on the final year of his deal for $14 million and still averages about 10 rebounds per game. He can still clean up defensive messes.

It’s not that much different when Chandler came here in the summer of 2010; he had a year left on his deal and there were concerns about his knee.

In a perfect world, Chandler comes in and moves Samuel Dalembert to backup. Both players would be in the final years of their deals, and the Mavs could let them walk after the season.

Then the Mavs could go after the next-best defensive center in the NBA, who will be a free agent next summer — Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, who played for Texas A&M.


The Philadelphia Eagles taking Louisville defensive end Marcus Smith will be the best first-round selection after the Cowboys’ pick of Zack Martin. The Eagles have a need, Smith will start, he can play, he fits their scheme and he has good teammates around him.

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