There were a couple of things working against each other with regard to Johnny Manziel when he arrived at Texas A&M. First, coming out of high school, there was the perception of Manziel as a playmaker who could make big plays when things broke down and also take less talented players and elevate them. He was said to have "it", some kind of mystical aura about him.
He was, in the eyes of many, not just Johnny Manziel. He was Johnny Football.
Actually, what Manziel has is great field vision and it works to his advantage in that he sees more things than most people can on a football field. As a result, he makes plays that many can't because he can account for ALL of his options, not just the ones in the progression that he is supposed to be going through. Spencer Nealy is very much like this; he sees things most people don't and so he winds up making plays beyond his supposed physical capabilities.
He was used to being able to use his athleticism to escape and his vision to pick out alternate receivers or lanes to run. The offense he played in had wide splits for the offensive linemen and stretched the receivers from sideline to sideline which played to those strengths. However, in the past two springs, he had to adjust to the fact that college players could make plays on the throws or runs that he could get away with in high school. As a result, his decision making was behind the curve and he turned over the ball too much.
It became apparent based on this past Saturday's scrimmage that he has a much better feel for those situations than what he did. Sometimes, QBs don't learn from these issues and they wind up making the one or two bad plays a game that cost you. However, Manziel made major strides in that regard.
The second item was this: mechanics and footwork enter into decision making as well. QBs have got to have their feet set when delivering the ball. They also have to keep the ball high around their shoulders pre delivery and over their shoulder during delivery. When the ball is already up there, the delivery is much shorter and so the ball comes out much more quickly. The longer it takes for the ball to come out, the longer it takes to get to its target and the more likely that someone on the other team can break on the ball. Also, when you finish the delivery, the throwing shoulder should be pointing at the target and not elsewhere because the motion has to be in the direction of the target.
Manziel bounced around a lot on his feet in the spring because he was looking to run around and make plays like he did in high school. That's not what this or most passing offenses are about. Coaches want you you to go through your progressions and deliver the ball to the open receiver. On Monday, I saw someone who stepped back, kept his feet on the ground, planted them, and so had more velocity behind his throws. I saw someone who kept the ball up in his drop and had a compact delivery. His shoulder wound up pointing at the target and it usually got to the receiver chest high.
Overall, his work this summer has paid off. He puts more into this throws, they are more accurate, and the ball comes out more quickly. That means that when he sees something, it translates into quicker actions which reduces the margin for error significantly.
So, while everyone wanted him to live up to his nickname of Johhny Football, Manziel himself has learned that being Johnny Football is not what's necessary in this offense. Instead, he's made the adjustment to being the kind of quarterback that this offense, his coaches, and his teammates need him to be one that goes through his progressions and delivers the ball to the right guy.