Montreal Alouettes quarterback Johnny Manziel is still without a win in first CFL season and his stat line – two touchdowns and four interceptions – leaves plenty to be desired. However, the 25-year-old said Friday he believes this season has been crucial for his development and will help him moving forward in his career.
"I feel this year has been a great learning year for me," Manziel told First Up on TSN Radio 1050 Toronto. "Obviously, sitting near the end of the scheme of things and saying we're not in a playoff run and we're not in exactly the position we would want to be, it's fair to say that it may be a little bit of a disappointment. But for me, I'm sitting here and looking at it with a much more positive view of everything.
"It's taken me some time, more time than I anticipated to get up here and understand the schematics of this game that differ so much from the NFL game. In the sense of learning and feeling comfortable with where I'm at in this league, which is different, I feel light years better than when I did when I first got to Hamilton earlier this year. I'm taking some small victories from it even though the end result isn't where we want to be right now."
Manziel was traded to the Alouettes from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in July and made his first start for the team less than two weeks later. It was an unmitigated disaster for Manziel as he threw four interceptions in the first half and finished with just 104 yards passing. He suffered a concussion in his next start and then lost his starting job to Antonio Pipkin before regaining it six weeks later last month.
The former first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns has completed 45 of 70 passes for 600 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions since taking back the reigns in Week 15. He said Friday he doesn't believe he underestimated the league when he first arrived in May.
"I think when I came up here originally I didn't know what I was getting myself into," Manziel explained. "I asked around did my did my due diligence on the CFL, but there was still no way for me to have an exact knowledge of what I was getting myself into and what this game was until you get up here and you live it and you see it and you start to learn from it. It's been a good surprise with what the talent level is in this league and the players that are in this league because it is very competitive and you do get a lot of reps that you normally - and I haven't normally - gotten in the past being a backup in the NFL.
"I'm sitting here right now with the opportunity and the position of being a starter, which is what I haven't gotten consistently over the past couple years. I wouldn't say I was extremely surprised about anything, but it has been obviously a transition for me."
Manziel is under contract through next season and said fully committed to leading the Alouettes this off-season ensure future success.
"I sit here and I take it a day at a time with where I'm at and what's going on and the reality of the situation, and that is I signed a two-year contract with the CFL," Manziel said. "I signed an entry-level deal that is a one and a one, so obviously we'll be back next year and I'm excited for that opportunity and welcoming that full year of having an off-season and having a full training camp of getting the reps and having a team next year that I will have an opportunity to work with, other than getting six or seven games here throughout the season.
"I'm looking to get some continuity and consistency with the guys that we'll have under contract coming into next year and making sure that we don't let everything from the end of this year to go dormant until next training camp and make sure that we're on our stuff in the off-season and we're working because I feel like that's the true measure of a good team. It's getting your guys together and making sure it's ingrained throughout the off-season to make a run that we want to make next year."
Manziel will try again to earn his first CFL win on Saturday against the Toronto Argonauts.