Johnny Manziel 'Ready Right Now,' Says Memphis Express Co-Offensive Coordinator

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 22, 2019

HAMILTON, ON - NOVEMBER 3:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Montreal Alouettes runs the ball against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a CFL game at Tim Hortons Field on November 3, 2018 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Former Heisman Trophy winner and first-round NFL draft pick Johnny Manziel is now a member of the AAF's Memphis Express

While Manziel hasn't taken a snap during a game yet, Express co-offensive coordinator Bobby Blizzard said he's "ready right now" to compete.

"I think he's ready right now, just because he knows so much of our offense right now," Blizzard told Express team reporter Dylan Rubino. "He's building chemistry already with the weapons we have and the offensive line. He's familiar with everything that we do. If he gets in the game, I will call a play that he's familiar with."

Per Rubino, Manziel has taken the second-most snaps at practice this week behind Brandon Silvers, who will start at quarterback for Memphis against the Birmingham Iron at home on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

Blizzard explained in detail why he felt Manziel was ready to roll.

"I mentioned the type of offense I ran, shouted some of the terminology I use, and his eyes lit up," Blizzard told Rubino. "He was calling out the plays before I even said anything. I looked at [Express head coach Mike Singletary] and gave him a thumbs up. He probably knew 75-to-80 percent of the offense before he even took a snap at practice."

Manziel shares his new coach's confidence.

"I'm light years away from where I was the first day out here," Manziel told Rubino after the Friday practice. "I'm very confident in myself and what we're doing here, what we're running and just trying to get better every day.

"I got to have a good, firm foundation of what this offense is. There's plays in our playbook right now that are exactly the same as the game-winner that I threw against Ole Miss. All across the SEC, I ran these plays successfully."

That familiarity could help jumpstart a pro career that has not gone to plan since 2014. Manziel completed just 57.0 percent of his passes in 15 games over two seasons for the Browns, throwing seven touchdowns and seven picks. He only managed 6.5 yards per pass attempt.

Off the field, Manziel has been the center of a tumultuous and turbulent series of off-the-field concerns, detailed by SportsDayDFW.com, which included allegations of domestic violence and multiple fines for his actions like flipping off a coach and arriving late for meetings.

He's largely stayed out of the news over the past few years, however, and earned some time with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes. Last season, Manziel completed 106 of 165 passes for five touchdowns and seven interceptions in eight games.

Although Silvers will be getting the start, the Express don't have much to lose by throwing the 26-year-old Manziel into a game in the near future.

The 1-5 team will be eliminated from postseason contention if they lose to the Iron, but three regular-season contests remain after the Birmingham matchup.


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