The plan made sense — take #ComebackSZN to The Spring League, dominate it, get a spot on a 90-man NFL offseason roster, work to get from 90 to 53. The performance in his debut likely wasn’t sufficiently dominant to trigger steps three and four.
Given that an NFL contract likely won’t be coming based on Saturday night’s game, the next question becomes whether Johnny Manziel will play at all on Thursday, in the second of the league’s two games. If Manziel plays, he may want to insist on playing all four quarters, both to show that he can do it physically and to hopefully develop the kind of rhythm and groove that will result in a better overall performance.
In the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s game, Manziel said nothing to suggest that he won’t show up in four days for the second and final game of The Spring League season. (Also, despite characterizations appearing elsewhere suggesting that he complained about the quality of play in The Spring League, his post-game scrum included no general or specific criticism of the players around him.)
Still, to get to the NFL, Manziel will need to show a lot more than what he showed last night. Specifically, he needs to show something more than rolling to the right and waiting for someone to get open. If that’s all he can still do well, NFL defenses will shut it down quickly, and then he’ll be screwed.
CFL defenses will shut it down quickly, too. Which means that it makes sense for Manziel to take advantage of one more chance to get live reps with The Spring League before heading to the CFL. But it’s becoming more and more clear that his effort to get back to the NFL will include an attempt to show dominance in the Canadian league.
He’ll also need to show that he can show up, day after day and week after week, fully engaged at meetings and practices and everything else he’ll be expected to do.
Manziel says he’s happy to be playing again, and that’s good. He said his #ComebackSZN isn’t just about football but repairing relationships, and that’s even better. The best possible outcome for Manziel — full redemption in the NFL — is likely going to take a lot more time, patience, effort, and frustration. If he’s truly committed to that, we’ll see him play one more Spring League game before cutting the best deal that he can and joining the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, where coach June Jones is waiting to help Manziel fulfill his potential (according to Jones) to be the best player in CFL history.