Johnny Florida

The NFL season is entering week 12 and as always, the league is crazy right about now. Some teams are starting to drop out of playoff contention though. The Oakland Raiders were eliminated on Sunday and more are sure to follow.

I want to turn my attention the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs have been underwhelming in 2014 posting a 2-8 record so far. The team is only two games back in the division but they do not have a win against a division opponent. The Buccaneers could be set to reload in the offseason though with a potential top-10 (or even top-5) pick in what is shaping up to be a very deep and talented draft. However, I think Tampa’s main priority should be someone who was already drafted.

One of the Buccaneers points of weakness this season has been quarterback. Josh McCown continues to prove that last season was a fluke and Mike Glennon looks like serviceable, yet replaceable backup. Clearly, neither one of the two will be starting next season under center, barring some sort of injury elsewhere. So I think it could be time for a fresh start for a former Heisman-winning dual threat quarterback, not too far removed for his days playing in the SEC, whose playmaking ability has created a borderline cult-like following.

Before I lose all my credibility, I do not mean Tim Tebow. I am talking about Johnny Manziel. This might still seem like a head-scratcher. Manziel has spent this season on the bench and has yet to prove himself in the NFL but there are a couple of reasons that I think Tampa is a fit for Johnny.

First, this is a Buccaneers offense that needs a shot in the arm. It ranks 28th in rushing and 19th in passing yards. I think that this could be a pivotal move to turn the Lovie Smith era around in year 2. Looking at the Bucs’ offense, you see a young, talented wide receiver in Mike Evans, who is coming off a 7-catch, 200+ yard performance against Washington. Evans has plenty of history with Manziel as they played together in college. Evans was also Manziel’s favorite target. The two combined for roughly 2,500 yards and 17 touchdowns in over their two years at Texas A&M. Manziel can also be a threat with his legs. He could provide a spark for Tampa’s anemic ground attack. This is also a team attempting to find its identity on offense. It presents the option to build around Manziel’s playmaking ability. I also think Lovie Smith’s disciplined coaching style would keep the rookie, known for his off the field antics, in line. Things could fall into place pretty well with a switch.

While Manziel is currently a member of the Browns, Cleveland seems set with Brian Hoyer as their quarterback and reluctant to let Manziel see the field. This could present a prime opportunity for Bucs to snag the former Aggie, and even a late round pick, in return for a disgruntled Vincent Jackson, whom the team is reportedly looking to move anyway. That could create a hole at wideout for Cleveland but with that top-10 pick, Tampa could easily target Alabama’s Amari Cooper. An offense featuring Manziel, Evans, Cooper and either a big-name free agent running back (Marshawn Lynch maybe?) or a rookie from a very deep draft class (Melvin Gordan perhaps?) could be downright scary. This just seems to make too much sense to me. Let me know what you think.


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