Senior Bowl MVP E.J. Manuel and Bucs QB Josh Freeman are a lot alike. Both are physically-gifted athletes, but both have inconsistent streaks that make their fans pull their hair out at times. Manuel played well in last Saturday's Senior Bowl, and may have boosted his stock during his week in Mobile.
Former Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel and Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman share a lot of the same traits.
Manuel (6-5, 237 pounds) and Freeman (6-6, 240 pounds) are similar in size, both are athletic and strong, each have cannons for arms and both drive their fans crazy occasionally with inconsistent play, despite setting college and franchise records.
Last week in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, PewterReport.com had an opportunity to visit with Manuel and talk about some of the things he – like Freeman – can improve on.
“I think just overall being consistent,” Manuel said. “When you watch Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning – granted those are the best players in the NFL – I am not saying I am like them, but those guys are consistent. They go out there and make the same throws, the same plays and great decisions. I think if I can do that then I can a great quarterback in the NFL.”
The inconsistencies cause some frustrated Noles fans to sometimes overlook Manuel’s career accomplishments during his tenure under center in Tallahassee. As Florida State’s signal-caller Manuel went 25-6 as a starter, won the first BCS bowl for Florida State since 2000, won five-out-of-six games against state rivals Miami and Florida and became just the second player in college football history to win four bowl games. The 2012 Seminoles also set a school record for total yards (6,591) bettering the 1999 undefeated Chris Weinke-led national championship team.
The Virginia native talked about some of things that make a quarterback become more consistent.
“I think it is mainly being comfortable with the offense,” Manuel said. “And also just having great technique – being technique sound. When football is the only thing you are doing – you are not going to class – you are just working on football everyday. That is when you have the opportunity to go over your fundamentals all day. That is one reason I have really enjoyed the past two weeks (training in Boca Raton) for this opportunity.”
Manuel had a so-so week of practice leading up to the actual Senior Bowl game, but said the ability to quickly comprehend the game plan with limited practices helped him earn Senior Bowl MVP honors.
“It is funny, that is what coach (Jimbo) Fisher would do,” Manuel said. “(When we would) Install in the summertime. He would pretty much give us the whole playbook the first two days. It was really up to us to memorize everything then review it as the week went on. Everything I am seeing (at the Senior Bowl) is what I saw in college. It has been really good for me.”
Manuel talked about the evolving quarterback position in the NFL, with players like Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick having success with a read-option style offense.
“I think it could be the future,” Manuel said. “Teams have tried it but it has been battle proven now. Colin Kaepernick might win the Super Bowl. He is throwing the ball great, actually outstanding. Some of the throws he made the other night were incredible. I don’t think it is a fad, I just think it is the style of quarterback you are seeing in the NFL now.
“It kind of puts the defense on their toes, they can’t just drop seven and rush four. The guy sees an open lane and can run for 15 yards or maybe 40 yards. It kind of bends, then breaks the backs of the defense.”
Manuel capped off Senior Bowl week earning the MVP trophy after leading the South to 21-16 win in Mobile. Manuel finished the game completing seven of his 10 passes for 76 yards, a touchdown and one interception on a tipped ball. Manuel added 10 yards on four carries and a touchdown.
After Saturday’s game Manuel talked about his hero, his mother Jackie Manuel, who has been battling breast cancer since just prior to the start of his senior season last summer.
That's kind of been my motivation,'' Manuel said. ''I call my mom every single day and tell her I love her. I never miss a day. ''They'll be sending that award home to her. I won that award for her. I went out there and played well for her. I'm happy I was able to do it.''Potential Landing Spot
Through Thursday of last week Manuel had not spoken to the Buccaneers however that isn’t to say a meeting won’t be scheduled at some point. Manuel did reportedly have a great visit with the Eagles and new head coach Chip Kelly who heavily recruited him to come to Oregon out of high school. Most scouts feel with his game last Saturday the former Nole may have improved himself to a second day (Rd. 2-3) selection and can solidify it with a good NFL Combine performance next month.
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