The Weekly Say: Grading Johnny Manziel’s 1st three starts in the CFL

TORONTO — There are still plenty of questions when it comes to Johnny Manziel.

Three starts into his CFL career Manziel has flashed some of the same potential that once made him a first-round NFL Draft pick. On the other hand, the Alouettes’ new starting pivot has yet to find the end zone, throwing five interceptions in the process — albeit only one over his last two starts.

He has completed 45 of 71 passes for 484 yards, no touchdowns and five interceptions in three losses: vs. Hamilton, 50-11, vs Ottawa, 24-17 and vs Winnipeg 31-14.

There have been ‘wow’ moments, many of them coming from his ability to escape the constant pressure he’s been under. The completion to B.J. Cunningham comes to mind, where he rolled out to his left and threw a strike to the receiver along the sideline, eventually setting up a short-yardage touchdown by Antonio Pipkin.

And there have been moments of frustration, like a late game-clinching interception last week, or two other miscues — one a near-interception and the other a fumble negated by penalty — that would have been all over the highlights had they counted.

Depending on who you ask, Manziel’s trajectory in the three-down game is significantly varied. Some will tell you the sky is the limit, while others believe he’ll be out of the league as early as next year.

Through three starts, how do we grade out Johnny Manziel? More in The Weekly Say.

Progress Report: How would you grade Johnny Manziel‘s first three starts?


Don Landry: I’d grade Manziel out at about a C+, overall, and getting better. His first outing, against Hamilton was a disaster, obviously, for a number of reasons. Showed a little better against Ottawa before being injured and then gave us more to believe in during last week’s loss to Winnipeg. Trending upward.

Marshall Ferguson: C+. Expectations might have been too high based on his situation and that hurts his grade, but this is more about what surrounds Johnny than his ability to make individual plays.

Jim Morris: I’d give him a C. I think last week he showed his mobility and ability to make throws. I think he’s still trying to get comfortable with the Canadian game, the different defences and larger field. A better offensive line would help but he also needs to make better decisions.

Matthew Cauz: I am not going to go the easy route and say “incomplete” so I’ll go with a C-. He looked totally unprepared in his first start, got injured in his second and was sacked five times by the Blue Bombers. Oh, and he has yet to throw a touchdown pass. Based on those past two sentences it feels like I am being kind with my grade, but have the Alouettes really put him in a position to succeed? His failures fall on so many doorsteps and he did have some moments against the Bombers, so I’m sticking with my C-.

Chris O’Leary: D+. The grade is mostly results-based. To me, if you’re starting, you should be ready and capable of producing for your team. Manziel hasn’t thrown a touchdown in three games and he’s 0-3. He has looked better in each of his games and the talent on the field with him (or any Als QB) should be considered when trying to determine how good he actually is, but I wonder if he’d be a starter on any other team in the league right now.

Jamie Nye: D-. The only reason it isn’t an F is due to the fact that I see improvement and a little more confidence through the first three starts. Manziel didn’t go through camp with Montreal, then the concussion, then the flu. It’s been a lot of roadblocks to him getting his feet under him in Montreal and I think we’re starting to see it.

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