They may not have given up two first-round picks and two starting calibre players to get him but the Memphis Express appear set to make the same mistake when it comes to rushing Johnny Manziel into action.
General manager Will Lewis says that Manziel could play on Sunday when the Memphis squad hosts the Birmingham Iron – just over a week after signing with the club.
“Going back to what he ran at Texas A&M and comparing that to the concepts we run here, there’s a good amount of familiarity, which leads you to believe you can put together a package or two for him where he’d be comfortable,” Lewis said.
Why would the Express run him out there so quickly? Well, the Express are 1-5 and on the verge of being eliminated from playoff contention (only four of the eight teams make the post-season.) The team’s quarterback situation is, uh, unsettled after Christian Hackenberg was garbage and Zach Mettenberger got hurt. They also have three home games left and are averaging just over 12,000 fans a game in two games so far.
So: bad team, shaky quarterback situation, dwindling attendance for a franchise that desperately needs it. Sounds familiar?
Manziel started for the Montreal Alouettes less than two weeks after being acquired from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, a move that even his agent called “insane.” To say it did not go well would be an understatement: he threw four picks, completed 11-of-20 passes for 104 yards, got benched and lit up on social media. It set the table for what was an altogether disastrous stint in the CFL that led to his banishment from the league.
The Express seem vaguely aware of what happened in Montreal, not that it will likely stop them.
“I think you can give him some things he can execute at a good level,” Lewis said. “But you don’t want to throw him out there before he is ready just because people want to see him. I think there was some of that in Canada. So you want to make sure he’s prepared and set up for success.”
The game will be broadcast on the NFL Network on Sunday at 7 p.m. and, given the seemingly insatiable desire for all things Manziel, it will likely produce solid ratings and (maybe) a decent crowd. But if his Montreal experience is any indication, what Manziel won’t be able to produce – through no fault of his own – is results.