Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is finding out just how difficult his transition to the Canadian Football League will be.
Earlier this week, Manziel told reporters he felt “super overwhelmed” by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ playbook and with some of the concepts that are prevalent in the CFL.
“It felt better being here than it did while I was laying in bed last night, going over the playbook,” Manziel said. “When we went to the meetings yesterday; I felt super overwhelmed. I think I was starting to get a little bit too hard on myself. Cause it’s different, the routes are different, there’s a lot of different ways you can break on the routes, the footwork. The certain windows you hit and how quick they happen, it’s different. So I was feeling overwhelmed.”
Manziel still has some time to get everything down before the Tiger-Cats’ first game on June 16. Another positive for Manziel — his coach, June Jones, is a longtime American coach who spent time at Hawaii and SMU, as well as in the NFL with the Falcons, Chargers and Lions. So he knows the kind of transition Manziel is going through.
“The way practice is set up and the way Coach Jones does it, is nice for a guy like me to be able to get behind and see what the play is and get the concept down and then see how it happens from some of the other guys,” he added.
Manziel has experience in high-level college offenses and in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns, so how tough could it be to pick up the Canadian system? Manziel used an NFL example to compare the two situations.
“Yesterday I did definitely see how big of a jump it’s going to be for me,” Manziel said. “If I go into an NFL camp I sit there and I’m pretty much able to pick up everything on defense in a Day 1 camp. Here, it’s not the case.”
If Manziel does win the starting job, he’ll have to overtake incumbent Jeremiah Masoli. Masoli, who played college ball at Oregon and Ole Miss, is coming off a great season. Jones said last week that Manziel will have to do well to win the starting job.
“Let me tell you something right now, he’s got his work ahead of him to beat out Jeremiah,” Jones said. “He’s got a lot to catch up on, but he’ll spend the time to get that done. I know he will because he’s already learned that lesson.”
The former Heisman Trophy winner said he’s also focused on just learning his surroundings and his teammates.
“I think I was a little more reserved and held back yesterday because I’m just trying to find ‘where do we go eat,’ ‘where are our meetings at,’ ‘where are we staying at,’ ‘what’s the situation for the next couple weeks?’ It’s just piecing things together one after another,” Manziel said. “But being in the locker room, being on the field today, it opens people up a lot more as far as getting a chance to talk. You talk about the route, and then it goes to other things. I’m just trying to start learning things about my teammates. I’m going to be here for awhile.”
Here’s Manziel’s full meeting with the media this week, courtesy of TSN Tube: