Johnny’s Journey: CFL Debut and Takeaways

If you have been keeping up to date with our articles you will know Manziel, who was picked up with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, recently made the move to the Montreal Alouettes. He got his first taste of CFL action this week, against the team who first took a shot on him, Hamilton. For a quick run through of Manziel’s new team read our last article here, but for a quick some up I’ve seen some refer to them as the Browns of the CFL.

We discussed how this debut may be difficult for Manziel, going up against the team in the CFL who know him best at this point, spending weeks training with them. It could have gone one of two ways, he goes up against a more familiar team and exploits areas he knows are weaknesses or they do that very thing to him. The latter was what unfolded.

The Alouettes stumbled to a 50-11 defeat with Johnny throwing 4 INTs. It’s easy to look at his stats and determine his debut was a failure. However I do not believe the paint the full picture. He showed enough in the passing game to prove his arm-strength and accuracy is still good, not perfect but promising signs. He also showed a lot of determination and a good attitude, something proven with his sprint and tackle following one of his picks. It may sound silly but time and time again we see QBs step off after a pick and prepare for the sideline, his hunger to chase the defender down showed a positive mentality. His most noteworthy talent that was on display was his elusiveness in the pocket and ability to avoid the sack. On his feet he looked very quick and was swiveling to avoid tacklers. Something the Alouettes will look to take advantage of.

So where did it all go wrong? Decision making. It’s a big factor. Manziel may have let the situation get the better of him, his first pro game in nearly 3 years, and his decision making let him down a lot. It’s the most important factor in how well a QB will perform, no amount of arm-strength will make up for poor decisions. Despite this you would hope, or imagine, that it will improve with time, he was after all playing after less than a week of practicing with Montreal.

Now Manziel needs to get back to practice and start preparing like his career depends on it. For now there are enough promising signs to continue with him, but if there are no signs of his decision making improving down the line Montreal will have no choice but to abandon the project. One thing that plays on Manziel’s side is the fact that the Alouettes are not expecting a playoff season, not a situation players want to be in but it may allow him more time to improve.

For now we can only wait and see how Manziel does against Ottawa Redblacks next weekend. Catch Manziel’s highlights courtesy of CFL Insider below: