Courtesy: guardianly.com - Johnny Manziel

Why Johnny Manziel will Not Succeed in the NFL

The 2014 NFL Draft wrapped up this weekend at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The Draft ran from Thursday May 8-10, 2014. This was the first time the Draft More »

Courtesy: Kyle Beckerman - sports.terra.com

Why Kyle Beckerman Deserves a Spot in the USMNT World Cup Squad

By John D. Halloran   I’ll admit it—I’ve never been a big fan of Kyle Beckerman. I couldn’t understand why he got national team call-ups, let alone playing time, and when he More »

Why Johnny Manziel will Not Succeed in the NFL

Courtesy: guardianly.com - Johnny Manziel
Courtesy: guardianly.com - Johnny Manziel

Courtesy: guardianly.com – Johnny Manziel

The 2014 NFL Draft wrapped up this weekend at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The Draft ran from Thursday May 8-10, 2014. This was the first time the Draft had been moved back from late April to early May, due to a scheduling conflict at Radio City Music Hall.

While this year’s draft was more excited than most, the biggest storyline featured Texas A&M quarterback, Johnny Manziel, aka, “Johnny Football”.  The controversial A&M quarterback was selected with the 22nd overall pick by the Cleveland Browns.

More than the Michael Sam story (the first openly gay football player drafted in the NFL); the media was all over this story. This was partly because Manziel was the most controversial, prolific-talented QB in this year’s draft class. He was the most talked about, possibly the most criticized prospect in the draft. Leading up to the draft, there were concerns about Johnny Manziel, ranging from his off-the-field persona, to his unorthodox style of play, and being undersized as a prototypical NFL quarterback.

My concerns with Manziel are whether his successes in college will translate into success at the professional level. I don’t believe he will be successful in the NFL.  Manziel will be a mediocre pro quarterback at best. He lacks the physical attributes required of an NFL pro, and also the skill of being a great pocket passer. Whenever his offensive line show sign of collapse, his first instinct is to scramble and take off running. Make no mistake about it, Manziel’s playmaking and improvisational skills are impressive. However, at the NFL level, the game requires the quarterback to be poise, discipline and patient within the pocket—intangibles Manziel lacks. He has a low efficiency passer rating completing passes over 20 yards. The NFL game is a lot quicker than the college game.

For Manziel to be regarded as a legitimate-franchise quarterback in the NFL, he will have to demonstrate he possesses the leadership, patience and grit week after week—and I don’t believe he will. The question isn’t whether the Cleveland Browns will give him a shot, because they will. Instead the question is, will he take advantage of the opportunity and prove his doubters wrong—I don’t think so. At the end of his career, however short it is, he just might join that list of “NFL first round Busts”.

Follow me on Twitter: @Bigballashotta

Why Kyle Beckerman Deserves a Spot in the USMNT World Cup Squad

Courtesy: Kyle Beckerman - sports.terra.com
Courtesy: Kyle Beckerman - sports.terra.com

Courtesy: Kyle Beckerman – sports.terra.com

By John D. Halloran

 
I’ll admit it—I’ve never been a big fan of Kyle Beckerman.

I couldn’t understand why he got national team call-ups, let alone playing time, and when he did get on the field his performances were always underwhelming.

Most damning, for me, was his performance against Jamaica in World Cup qualifying in September 2012. In the match, Beckerman struggled and was a key contributor to the U.S.’ loss. After the match, I commented::

On Friday night, Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones seemed to be having a competition to see who could play worse. Beckerman was poor for most of the night, giving away possession and getting beat on the dribble repeatedly. He was mercifully replaced in the 61st minute. It is difficult as a fan to be so hard on players who repeatedly answer their nation’s call-ups. The fault with Beckerman’s selection lies firmly with USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Klinsmann needs to be seriously questioned if Beckerman dons the USMNT jersey again.

The next day, I asked if Jurgen Klinsmann was the only person who thinks Kyle Beckerman is USMNT-worthy?

And I wasn’t alone in my criticism of Beckerman. Sports Illustrated’s Avi Creditor wrote about the Jamaica game: “Beckerman’s bright start gave way to a bit of a nightmare evening…Beckerman looked a step behind for much of the night, committing some desperate fouls.”

And the New York Times’ Brian Sciaretta wrote: ”Klinsmann has given Beckerman many chances to succeed but that may end after Tuesday night. Beckerman was simply ineffective on both sides of the ball…Beckerman was simply poor.”

After the match, there weren’t too many fans still willing to defend Beckerman, and most wrote off any chance he had of representing the U.S. at the World Cup in 2014.

My impression of Beckerman began to change this past summer in the Gold Cup. Although he was largely ripped for this pass against Belize, he played well in the early games, even if it was against inferior levels of competition.

As the tournament wore on and the competition level increased, Beckerman continued to be an important part of the U.S.’s midfield, controlling possession in transition and staying home to allow his midfield partner—usually Mix Diskerud or Stuart Holden—to go forward in the attack.

In speaking with Beckerman after the Gold Cup, I asked him if he thought his strong performances had helped his World Cup chances, but he remained humble saying: ”I don’t know—a year is a long time in any professional sport. A lot of things can happen, so I don’t think I can look that far ahead. I think all of us that were in the Gold Cup helped our chances to continue in the process. All we can do is keep at it, keep working hard and keep winning.”

Beckerman’s strong performance in the Gold Cup did earn him a renewed chance with the “A” side and in September. With Michael Bradley out injured, Beckerman was given the start against Mexico in the all-important World Cup qualifier in Columbus, Ohio. He performed well this time, staying home defensively and helping guide the U.S. to a 2-0 win over their archrivals. And earlier this month, Beckerman got another start against Mexico and again played well.

Beckerman’s value to the United States men’s national team lies in two key areas. First, is his willingness to “stay home” and sit in front of the center-backs, which provides cover and allows his midfield partner to go forward. This was evident against Mexico, as Michael Bradley had an outstanding game linking the U.S. back line with the forwards and wide midfielders. Bradley was given that freedom because of Beckerman’s defensive work.

Beckerman’s second important asset is his ability to play simple possession. He does an excellent job checking back for the ball, coming, at times, all the way into the back line to receive the ball and begin the U.S. attack.

Four center midfielders to Brazil, Kyle Beckerman deserves a place alongside Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Mix Diskerud. Maurice Edu certainly offers a more athletic option, but Beckerman has done more over the past year to earn his spot as Edu was rarely called in to the team due to his lack of playing time at the club level.

How much playing time Beckerman receives in Brazil, and if he is a better choice to partner Bradley in the U.S.’ midfield rather than Jones are other questions. But in his performances for the United States since last summer, Beckerman has proved that he’s worthy of a spot in the final 23-man roster headed to the World Cup.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @Bigballashotta