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Sports

January 4, 2014

West column: Here's vote for Texans drafting Manziel

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Here's vote for Texans drafting Manziel



  Now that the Houston Texans have a new head coach, the hottest question

surrounding them the next few months will be what they do with the No. 1 pick

in the draft. Some will advocate trading down to get more picks, which is

almost always good strategy. Others will push for Louisville QB Teddy

Bridgewater
or South Carolina defensive end Jadevon Clowney. My thought is to

take Johnny Manziel, which for sure goes against conventional wisdom. But,

after watching Manziel twice destroy Nick Saban's Alabama defenses, after

seeing what he did for a Texas A&M team that would have been mediocre without

him and after seeing what Duke coach David Cutcliffe said, I'm all for

rolling the dice on Manziel. Cutcliffe, who was Peyton Manning's QB coach at

Tennessee and Eli Manning's head coach at Ole Miss, called Manziel, "Maybe the

premier

college football player of the past 25 years, if not more." That was before

Manziel's second-half magic against Duke that drew the highest TV rating for

a non-BCS bowl since at least 2000. For sure, there are reasons why Manziel

is

a risk. In this estimation, they are more than offset by Johnny Football's

amazing ability to make plays, by his leadership qualities, by his

fearlessness and by the exciting upside for a franchise that plays a poor

second fiddle to the Cowboys in Texas and nationally. Do I think the Texans

will take Manziel? Probably not. I'm guessing he's not new coach Bill

O'Brien
's kind of QB. Among other things, he's too much of a maverick for

ultra conservative Texans' owner Bob McNair.   

   While I'm going out on a limb, here's a prediction that will make you

wonder what I'm smoking or drinking while writing this. With Bill O'Brien

giving no thought to retaining Wade Phillips as the Texans' defensive

coordinator, I could see Wade winding up back in Dallas as the Cowboys DC.

Yes, it's far out, but here's the reasoning. Dallas is desperate defensively,

Jerry Jones still likes Wade even though he fired him, Wade's son Wesley is

the

Cowboys tight ends coach, Wade still has a home in Dallas he hasn't sold and,

most important, Wade's ego isn't so big he couldn't handle going back. From

Jones' standpoint, there won't be a better coordinator available to fix one

of the three worst defenses in the NFL. For a precedent, think George

Steinbrenner and Billy Martin
. . . This column, by the way, is being written

from Washington D.C., where I'm hanging out with 21-month old grandson

Hudson. Being in D.C. gave me a chance to read a rant in the Washington Post

about

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. The author of the following quote -- former

Redskins radio broadcaster Frank Herzog -- could just as easily have been

going off on the owner of the Cowboys. See if you can't visualize Jethro

while reading some of Herzog's words about Snyder. "First and foremost, you

have to

remember one thing. This is Dan Snyder's train set, and if he wants to run

the locomotive off that round curve, he can do that. Because he owns it. The

guy

is obviously a jock sniffer. All he wants to do is be buddy buddy with

football players, which automatically makes his coach half of what he could

be because players go around the coach to the owner." There was much more,

but

you get the gist and should be able to draw one simple conclusion. Jones and

Snyder are two peas in a pod.

   Finishing third in Pro Bowl voting, behind high-profile QBs Peyton Manning

and Drew Brees
, suggests Jamaal Charles' skills are starting to finally

become apparent to the pro football world outside Kansas City. Here's another

even

more impressive indicator. USA Today columnist Jarrett Bell handed out his

NFL individual awards Thursday and picked Jamaal over the Eagles LeSean McCoy

for

his Jim Brown Offensive Player of the Year Award. Here's Bell's rationale.

"Consider where the Chiefs would be without Jamaal Charles. Not in the

playoffs. Charles ranked second to McCoy with 1,980 yards from scrimmage and

led the league with 19 TDs. And no player had a larger share of his team's

yards from scrimmage this season than Charles, who accounted for 36.7 percent

of the Chiefs total, which is what ultimately separates him in this case." .

. . Best thing going for new Texans' coach Bill O'Brien might be the schedule

he'll face in 2014 as a result of Houston's last place finish. Home games, in

addition to division rivals Indy, Tennessee and Jacksonville, are Baltimore,

Cincinnati, Washington, Philadelphia and Buffalo. Outside the division on the

road, Houston plays at Dallas, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, the NY Jets and

Oakland. For openers, getting four games against the NFC East is a nice bonus

that

should be worth two to three victories . . . Dallas' 2014 lineup, by the way,

includes the NFC East trio of Philly, Washington and the Giants, plus home

games against the Texans, Atlanta, San Francisco, Indianapolis and New

Orleans. The non NFC road stops are at St. Louis, Seattle, Jacksonville,

Tennessee and Chicago. Can you say 6-10?

  Louisville's Charlie Strong may or may not be the new coach at Texas. Either

way, it's clear he was the choice of UT athletic director Steve Patterson. It

was an interesting, intriguing and defiant decision on Patterson's part and

one that could end up biting him. By opting for Strong,  Patterson has made it

clear he's his own man and won't be intimidated by the big money

donors who turned replacing Mack Brown into a political football. My sources

say Strong was not the first, second or even third choice of the fat cats. As

late as Friday, some of the heaviest hitters reportedly still thought they

could

buy Alabama's Nick Saban. If the Strong deal blows up, as appears possible,

Patterson could find himself in a world of hurt . . . I've been a fan of

Baylor coach Art Briles since I watched

his Stephenville team play Port Neches-Groves in the 1999 4A state

championship game in the Astrodome. What Briles has accomplished at Baylor is

as impressive as any coaching job I've ever seen in college football.

However, I'm thinking Briles should be embarrassed by how poorly prepared his

team was

in losing to Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl. For Baylor to win the Big 12

and earn a first BCS bid, then deliver such an uninspired, penalty-marred

performance against a second-tier foe reflects badly on Briles. Makes you

wonder if he wasn't seriously distracted by all the talk about the Texas job

. . . Second worst coaching job in a bowl games has to go to Alabama's Saban.

The

"best coach in college football" never got his team back after its crushing

loss to Auburn. Oklahoma's Bob Stoops clearly earned vindication for his

remarks about Southeastern Conference defenses being overrated with the way

an

inexperienced, redshirt-freshman QB shredded Bama. The Sugar Bowl win may

finally get the Boise State monkey off Stoops' back.

  It was noted in this space last week that the UIL should put an asterisk by

its new all-time attendance record of 54,347 for the Allen-Pearland 5A

Division I championship game at JerryWorld because the number was swelled by

fans awaiting the 5A, Division II title game between Katy and Cedar Hill.

When PN-G's 1977 4A title game against Plano set a record of 49,953 at Texas

Stadium, it was the only game. The fallen-record column note drew a response

from former PN-G player Scott Hall, who now lives in Garland. Hall, then a

member of PN-G's JV, was at Texas Stadium for the 1977 title game and in

JerryWorld for Allen-Pearland. He's betting there are few others in

attendance for both games. I'm thinking he may be the only one . . . Sounds

like Dave

Barnett's "Southwest Icons of Coaching" show Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. on Fox

Sports Southwest will be must-see TV. Barnett's guest is Jimmy Johnson and,

according to Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News, JJ tells Barnett that

Jerry Jones informed him three years ago he'd be inducted into the Cowboys

Ring of Honor. Color me still skeptical. I'll believe it when it actually

happens . . .  As if 2013 wasn't dismal enough for the Texans, Dan Patrick

stuck the knife in and twisted it on his national talk show after the team

lost its 13th consecutive game. "And you thought the Astros were bad,"

Patrick

remarked.

   Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at rdwest@usa.net

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