Ticats match up with Montreal a referendum on the Manziel trade

The game between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Montreal Alouettes on Friday night will be a kind of snap referendum on the Johnny Manziel trade. If Johnny plays well and the Als win, the Ticats will look like fools for dealing away a prized prospect while their own season goes down the tubes.

This is ludicrous, of course. The transaction that sent Manziel and two offensive linemen to Montreal – both of whom are also starting against their old club – in exchange for two former all-stars and two first round picks can’t be rightly judged until Manziel has something resembling a body of work in the CFL (at the very least.) And there’s an argument to be made that the full scope of the deal won’t be realized until the return for those picks come in.

But that’s not how sports works these days, certainly not in the social media-fueled fame vortex that Manziel lives in. Johnny delivers screaming headlines, clicks and hot takes no matter where he goes and what he does and so Friday will be no different, no matter the outcome.

As a team, the Ticats have handled the Manziel mania pretty well, saying all the right things before, during and after his time in Hamilton. Even this week, head coach June Jones was more than willing to indulge in plenty of Johnny talk, despite his departure.

“It’s fun, it’s exciting. It’s exciting for the CFL, it’s exciting for all the players. The nation sees it here, the nation sees it down south. Even in Hawaii, they show it,” Jones said. “I don’t think the players will be over-hyped. I think they know the job they have to do. This is a game where we need to turn it up and play better. I think they understand that.”

But not everybody was as accommodating. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who has generally been more media-friendly this season, tersely shut down questions about facing his old teammate.

“I really have nothing to say about it,” Masoli said. “I’m not playing him. I’m playing their defence. What are you looking for here? We just trying to win, point-blank period. Doesn’t matter who we play.”

If Masoli has reached a certain level of fatigue regarding the Manziel mania, that’s certainly understandable. But there’s plenty at stake for him to, both in this matchup and in the trade in general as the Ticats essentially doubled down on their commitment to him as their starter.

There’s plenty of justification for that decision. Masoli is second in the CFL in passing yards and has thrown for 300 or more yards in 10 of his last 11 games. His work ethic is unquestionable and his teammates believe in him.

However, there’s also the six interceptions (tied for the league high) the 15 sacks taken, the 12-13 career record and the struggles in the fourth quarter. But those flaws, if that’s what they are, aren’t solely attributable to him.

He certainly has a more significant body of work than Manziel, who has yet to throw a pass in a CFL regular season game and takes over the starting job in Montreal despite having had just five practices with his new club. Starting him so quickly is “insane,” according to Manziel’s agent Erik Burkhardt.

“I think it’s a little premature. I think you’re only as good as your playcalling and your experience around you and I think everybody is trying to figure this thing out,” Burkhardt said on Manziel’s Comeback SZN podcast. “I’m a little bit uncomfortable and I think expectations need to be tempered a little bit.”

Meanwhile, Manziel is exuding plenty of confidence, despite his complete lack of experience in the CFL game.

“Everybody is saying ‘temper expectations,’ but I’m going to go out and let it rip,” Manziel said. “I’m going to go out and throw the [expletive] out of the ball, there is no doubt about that.”

While Burkhardt is hardly an objective observer on the matter, his encapsulation of what’s a stake in accurate enough: if his client goes out and strafes the Ticats, he’ll hardly be the only one questioning Hamilton’s decision to deal Manziel – premature as it may be.

“I want you to go beat their ass,” Burkhardt said. “We’re playing the team that traded him and it ain’t like they’re blowing the doors off, they’re 2-4. I think their quarterback has thrown more picks than touchdowns, so go put it on their ass.”

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
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Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1519 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

33 Comments on Ticats match up with Montreal a referendum on the Manziel trade

  1. Moncton Ticats fan // August 3, 2018 at 9:33 am //

    So there you have it – the gauntlet has been thrown down so to speak. The Cats D need to play well and contain Manziel, and Masoli needs to have a break out game with red zone success and lots of points. They should not (can not) lose to what appears to be an overall inferior team. Kudos to TO for the big comeback last night – I didn’t know who to root for, but all in all like that the RBs didn’t pick up two more points in the East. The Cats need two points tonight.

    • True, Tillman and company have done an outstanding job with personnel. Have to be honest with you, I believe Reed has done a very good job with personnel as well.

      Both teams have suffered from poor coaching. The Ticats not only have run poor red zone production, they have had some of the leagues worst play on Special Teams. Put that together with a strong D that has not created turnovers and given Masoli optimal field position and that O is having to bust their asses to get into the red zone. This is even further emphasized by the ill use of the running game.

      Montreal has very suspect coaching on the OLine. They have strong players- just have spun their wheels all year in this position. Add zero commitment to the running game and the unimaginative run straight down the middle and the result is a front 7 opposition D putting high pressure on the QB. This = 2 and out.

      Both kickers are punt specialists not FG kickers so they are shanking the ball to the left or to the right and not putting critical points on the board.

      All things being equal, this will come down to HC addressing their weaknesses and addressing them. Jones gets 3 major weapons back- Tasker, Toliver and Green. Green pound for pound cannot carry Montreal’s Sutton’s luggage. Prediction that you see Jones commit to the run for 23-24 attempts. Sherman has finally got his QB.

      If Sherman commits to the running game and Sutton for 22-24 carries and forces Hamilton to respect his QB- he has a very good chance to win this game.

      Bottom line- I love the smashmouth smack talk as much as the next guy (nice to actually hear it in MONTREAL!!). Johnny better hope that Sutton is as activated and energized as him for the W.

      Go Johnny Football and Sutty!!

      • “Have to be honest with you, I believe Reed has done a very good job with personnel as well.”
        Believe what you will, Reed is a disaster, and the Bomben trade is a case in point: every knowledgeable CFL analyst I’ve read has said, and I concur, that Reed should have had the scouting and recruiting acumen to find a defensive back, no matter how good, WITHOUT sacrificing an All-Star offensive lineman. There isn’t even a hope of arguing against that point.

        “Montreal has very suspect coaching on the OLine. They have strong players- just have spun their wheels all year in this position. Add zero commitment to the running game and the unimaginative run straight down the middle and the result is a front 7 opposition D putting high pressure on the QB. This = 2 and out.”
        To start with, Sutton is one of the best N/S runners in the league. Montreal’s O-line has suffered from innumerable injuries and the inevitable disruption (players being inserted in, having to change positions) that causes confusion and a lack of cohesion. I would personally have hired Brian Chiu, ex-Alouettes center, to coach the offensive line,
        but it’s harsh placing judgement on a coaching staff that’s had to replace and juggle players on an almost weekly basis. Not to mention the fact that our quarterbacks, up to the Adams start, have largely been lead-footed pocket passers who couldn’t outrun a snail. When Washington and Rice finally know their assignments, Blake is fully recovered from injury, Tyler Johnstone is finally back from injury, and with LBJ and Matte finally pulling in concert with a prepared and healthy O’line, THEN we can judge whether the coaching is adequate or not.

        “Both kickers are punt specialists not FG kickers so they are shanking the ball to the left or to the right and not putting critical points on the board.”
        Bede was perfect, both on FG’s and conversions, until last game. I’m sure he’d disagree on your “punt specialist” contention.

        I wholeheartedly agree that the Alouettes need to commit to the running game against the Cats. Unfortunately, the Ticats will probably stack the box AND spy Manziel as a matter of course. They KNOW we have no deep threat, mostly because our deep threat is playing for THEM. Look for the Cats defense to play our receivers REALLY tight, and to give Manziel the deep ball. Whether Manziel’s scrambling and creative abilities can make the difference, and disrupt the Ticats defense, remains to be seen. A couple of big runs by Manziel and the middle should open up for Sutton. And when everyone on the field is worried about Manziel using his legs, receivers should start finding a lot more space.

        Go Als Go!

    • While it’s hard to argue against the contention that the Alouettes are an “overall inferior team”, I think the Alouettes have nailed what has caused this “ennui” on a squad that, on paper, should be better: WE HAD NO QUARTERBACK.

      I was not the only one to assert that, even in spring training, the Alouettes had no starting quarterback. And, unlike most people, I took NOT to mean that the issue wasn’t decided yet, but that NOBODY on our roster deserved to play quarterback in this league. With a third of the season gone, THAT seems pretty obvious.

      With the Alouettes re-signing Adams and trading for Manziel, it looks like all that has gone in a completely different direction.

      When your team isn’t putting up more than 10 points on most nights, EVERY player on that team goes into a funk: how can we possibly win like this?

      The Argos were arguably as bad or worse, without Ricky Ray, than the Alouettes. One Bethel-Thompson game later, the players are claiming they’ve “righted the ship”.

      So yeah, I GET people saying the Alouettes are a bad team. And I have some doubts that a bevy of overpaid, undercommitted free agents can EVER come together and play as a team, regardless of their collective talents.

      But regardless of Reed’s incompetence, complete lack of scouting resources, and propensity for bull in bulk, if Manziel can, as Sherman claims, REALLY make those around him better, then THIS is the reason why: we FINALLY have a legitimate hope of winning.

      Go Als Go!

    • Done

  2. If Manziel beats the stuffing out of the Ticats, the talk will never end – if Hamilton wins, it will probably still be questioned for a while unless M anziel really makes a fool of himself and the falls off the wagon after the game and gets arrested or something which I don’t think is very likely.

    • Solara2000 // August 3, 2018 at 9:50 am //

      Why even raise your comment if you don’t “think is very likely”? Why not cut the guy slack and let’s see how he does as a football player.

      • Very much willing to cut slack and see how he does. I have to make some sort of comment in order to have everyone else’s comments emailed to me. If there was an option for doing that without commenting I would do it often.

  3. Bombsquad // August 3, 2018 at 9:47 am //

    We all know that Montreal isn’t a very good football team, at least from what we’ve seen so far. Another thing we’ve noticed is that the play from the Als QB position has been far less than stellar. If Manziel can at least provide a spark, promise and steady play from that position it will go a long way to getting the Als on the road to respectability. I’m curious to see how Johnny does, whether that is enough to win the game might be a stretch but we’ll see.

  4. Mcleod BT is another example of an NFL-NCAA guy having quick success like Steveler. In fact his path is similar to Manziel’s. From Wikipedia.. Ucla red shirt. Appeared in 5 games for Bruins. Transfer Sacramento State (Ricky Ray Alma). Kicked around NFL. Like John played in Spring league but 2017. Signed with Argos may 2017. Two pre-seasOn games 2017. he has sat for a year and a half but still in initial contract. Lets see if Manziel can follow him from Spring league, two pre-season and watching a veteran on the bench to success. I hear John cherry picked through Als playbook to find stuff he ran at [email protected] and Browns. Hard to say who has the edge on scouting but I am sure Manziel put in plays that take advantage of Weaknesses of the defense he saw in practice and games. On the other side John probably never showed the Cats everything he can do and he makes up stuff on the fly that is not film.

    • @Tiga
      The analogy is deeply flawed. If Manziel had “sat for a year and a half”, learning the playbook and practicing with whatever players would have him, I’d say sure, Manziel was ready.

      And while there may be a play or two already in the playbook that Manziel recognizes and can run,
      how many of those plays can reasonablt be expected to be in the Alouettes regular offense?
      From what I hear Sherman has inserted a lot of such plays with which Johnny CAN but the rest of the offense cannot possibly be acquainted.

      If true, Manziel could be on his back faster than you can say, “season-ending injury”. I think this is where things go from “reasonable” to “flirting with disaster”.

  5. Plus if he is running Browns and [email protected] plays that are also in the Als playbook the Cats probably have never seen those plays. Naylor says it is an historical anomaly for a QB from NCAA or NFL start fast but I have a long list of instant successes starting with Frank Philchock on up to Mcleod BT yesterday. Naylor spits out cherry picked data to support his preconceived opinion.

    • Plus if he is running Browns and [email protected] plays that are also in the Als playbook the rest of the Alouettes offense probably have never seen those plays.

      This could be an Alouettes recipe for DISASTER.
      If Manziel sustains a season-ending or worse, career-ending injury because he, or the players upon whom he relies to stay healthy aren’t prepared to do their jobs…GUESS WHO THE FOOTBALL WORLD IS GOING TO BLAME!

      While we were all vaguely concerned Montreal might lose a CFL franchise for the 3rd time, THIS might be a direct route to utter dissolution.

      At the rate we’ve been losing QB’s in this league, that’s hardly an absurd possibility. Hopefully, if/when it becomes clear that this hodgepodge offense is an absurd football freak, Sherman will regain his senses and put Adams back in there until Manziel and the rest of the team are ready, and on the same page.

  6. Dundas dude // August 3, 2018 at 10:09 am //

    No pressure boys, but if the Cats lose to Manziel and the Als, everybody responsible for this trade need to be fired.

  7. It seems everybody is intent to put put so much on one game. Let’s get real.
    We want to see a good football game. Period.
    The Ticats will make the adjustments they need to make to win -even against a poor football club.
    Als fans will hope that one player will suddenly make a poor team a Grey cup winner
    Manziel will perform as well as he did in the pre-season.
    Infact, the game will not be decided by the play of Masoli or Manziel bu t by other factors such as special teams, play calling.
    don’t miss the football game just watching the QBs

  8. It’s way more than a referendum on the trade; it’s a referendum on JJ’s offensive philosophy and his in-game play management. It’s also a yard stick on whether Masoli is a winner. That’s way more important than stats. Nothin’ wrong with winning ugly! Glanville and his D are doing their job; unspectacularly, but sufficient.

  9. Chantale Kreveux // August 3, 2018 at 10:40 am //

    Just watching all the clips and listening to podcasts there is a big difference in demeanor between Manziel and Masoli. John is all fire and brimstone but Masoli seems timid and frightened. Sherman says great players elevate those around him. And Sherman coached Favre and Reggie White. But I think the opposite is true also. Masoli is dragging down a good team. He is making everyone around him worse. Facts are his CFL record is now less than 500. I think Masoli is flawed and TIcats traded the wrong guy.

    • Hardly – Masoli is by nature much more laid back and calm than Manziel but make no mistake he is still fiercely competitive. =Hhis team mates know how long and hard he’s worked to become a starter and play well for him. Having a healthy Tasker back in the lineup will certainly help. Too many miscues in last week’s games but they weren’t all on Masoli – receivers (and others) have to take some of the responsibility.

    • As an outside observer (Alouettes fan), I watched as Ticats Nation proclaimed Mazoli their starting quarterback. And, regardless of what happens tonight with Manziel, my thought was: it’s too soon to make any definite judgement about ANY quarterback.

      Mazoli has shown great promise. And, as so often happens (alas), maybe all he needs is an opponent like the Alouettes to bust out, and regain his confidence and get back on track. Tying a record for the most 300+ passing yards games in a row doesn’t happen by accident. If it did, the dog-pack of Alouettes quarterbacks would’ve had at least ONE this season, instead of: 281yds, 129yds, 255yds, 280yds, 177yds, 217yds passing.

      I know this is a results driven sport. And that the results of ONE or several outings, in an 18 game season, are magnified to an absurd extent.

      But at some point you have to trust your gut, make a decision about a quarterback, and then plan like heck to surround him with everything he needs to be a success. I’m not going to tell Ticats fans that Masoli is that guy. But trust me, being too quick to judge is the very fuel that sets that quarterback carousel spinning out of control.

      Players go on hot streaks. And they go into slumps. ESPECIALLY young players. We all need to remember that, because this league is somewhat in transition, with a lot of teams struggling to find “the guy”. As CFL fans, we’re mostly hurting ourselves if we jump to premature conclusions.

      So I pledge NOT to judge my own quarterback Johnny Manziel too harshly if he totally wipes out tonight. And if he rips the Cats to shreds, I know it’s only one game, against an opponent that’s been struggling of late.

      • Dundas dude // August 3, 2018 at 4:54 pm //

        Masoli sure as heck better be “that guy” because we traded every other quarterback (Collaros, Manziel, Adams), so if he isn’t “that guy”, those making the trades are held accountable. Hopefully a good, exciting , safe game (where the cats win ✌️)

  10. gridiron guru // August 3, 2018 at 10:56 am //

    this is the most-hyped game in the cfl regualr season for longer than i can remember: this is good for the league either way- he fails and the cfl is respected more from nfl fans, he succeeds and the hype machine gets going and stadiums start to look fuller in montreal and wherever the johnny show stops at… this is good for football in canada tonight, regardless of what some cynics might say about the guy… and why would we not hope for a guy down and out on his luck and trying to make a comeback? i can tell you this, i have 2 friends talking about the cfl when i met them for lunch yesterday- they spoke about manziel…these guys are nfl fans that want to watch him play tonight! ball is ball- and i watch cfl,nfl,ncaa and on occasion a bit of cis football… alot of people in bc watch nfl- this is a chance for the cfl to reach a generation of football fans that turned their collective backs on the cfl in the late 80s, 90s – at least thats what i see here in bc…more kids know of russel wilson here than lulay or jennings, hands down- the cfl lost tons of football fans arund here starting about the late 80s and there have not been many successful attempts to try and get them back… younger generations relate to a guy like manziel, as do alot of nfl fans (hopefully the buzz creates more interest in a league that has little or no pulse in cities like toronto or vancouver or montreal

  11. Arcade Fire // August 3, 2018 at 11:36 am //

    good comment Gridiron. I think an expansion team in Victoria would be good to get Seattle people on the Ferry for games in the Capital city.

  12. Your own SCREAMING clickbait HEADLINE was so ludicrous, I had to comment.
    But then you pointed that very fact out, in your second paragraph, so I’ll just post THAT:

    “This is ludicrous, of course. The transaction that sent Manziel and two offensive linemen to Montreal – both of whom are also starting against their old club – in exchange for two former all-stars and two first round picks can’t be rightly judged until Manziel has something resembling a body of work in the CFL (at the very least.) And there’s an argument to be made that the full scope of the deal won’t be realized until the return for those picks come in.”

    • Als4Life // August 3, 2018 at 1:25 pm //

      Nostre with the fire in your belly, we should have replaced Westerman with you!! I prefer to keep the glass half full instead of half empty.

      Let’s talk about best case scenario; 2 actually is an elite athlete with a high football accuman- he did pretty well on the wonderlic. We give Sherman some credit and say he has focused on calling a balanced game, maybe himself- which would make me thrilled as Jones, Boulduc and Dunn have not done a good job. The only way Hamilton’s front 7 stay off our QB is a healthy (30-35%) of the played called are 20 and 31 (9 can run too- may get him out of the funk). Take the pressure off the oline and give 2 room to breath.

  13. Gunna be a MELTDOWN in Hamilton tonight after JFF gets through with them!

    • fannotacoach // August 3, 2018 at 8:35 pm //

      Meltdown underway! Oh did you mean by the Cats? 34-3 waiting for the point after.

      • fannotacoach // August 3, 2018 at 8:38 pm //

        Having said that it’s on the Als as a whole not just JFF. They are stinking the place up.

    • Steve J. // August 4, 2018 at 1:04 am //

      Well, Texan. That might be the new “How Not To” video for all future Americans looking to make the jump to the CFL. I don’t think it was entirely Manziel’s fault as the Montreal staff threw him to the lions (or Tiger-Cats as the case might be) but he has been on a roster long enough to know the Canadian game by now and, Man, did he suck tonight.

    • Hey Texan, that was quite the MELTDOWN by your boy last night. How did it feel?

  14. Looks like the melt down is in Montreal after last night’s “Johhny” debut. To be entirely fair – the whole team — even with their high priced FA signings (some of whom they already traded away) – is AWFUL.

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