Commanders GM Daryl Johnston says team’s decision on Johnny Manziel was all about winning

Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston talks with linebacker Darnell Leslie at the end of practice Tuesday at the Alamodome. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston talks with linebacker Darnell Leslie at the end of practice Tuesday at the Alamodome. – photo by Joe Alexander
Three days after former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became available to AAF teams, Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston discussed why the team stuck with it’s current group of quarterbacks.

“It’s a winning decision, what gives us the best opportunity to win. This game is all about winning,” Johnson said at Tuesday’s practice at the Alamodome. “I think when we talked to everyone in the organization. We felt the decision that we made gave us the best opportunity to win. It’s not about putting people in the seats. It’s not about all these different things people have brought up.

“For us it’s about winning. That’s what this game is. That’s why these coaches are here. That’s why these players are here. Our job is to do everything that we can possibly do to put them in the best position to win the game. That’s the sole reason for all the decisions that we make.”

The Commanders are coming off their third straight road victory. They lead the AAF West with a 4-2 record and play their next game at the Alamodome on Saturday night against the Salt Lake Stallions.

Logan Woodside has started every game at quarterback for the Commanders this season. Last week he was the AAF offensive player of the week. Marquise Williams and Dustin Vaughan are the other two quarterbacks on the Commanders’ roster.

“I think a lot of people don’t understand that they way system is set up, if we’re going to add someone to the roster we’re going to have to take somebody off,” Johnston said. “That was part of the combination of everything that we looked at.”

The Commanders had the AAF’s first rights rights to Manziel because he played at Texas A&M. Manziel signed with the league on Saturday. When the Commanders decided not to take him, the Memphis Express claimed Manziel on Saturday night. The Express had lost their starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger to an ankle injury on Saturday afternoon. Memphis has put Mettenberger on the injured list.

“Memphis is in a completely different situation than we are right now,” Johnston said. “I think it was adventageous for Johnny. I think he gets his best opportunity to have success. That’s the whole timing thing.

“Is it going to be good for him to come into a situation where you’re seven weeks into a 10-week season? You’ve got to learn the playbook. Learn the vocabulary. Establish a rapport with all the skill players. Can you get it done quickly enough to have success? I think Memphis gives him a really good opportunity and I don’t think we were going to provide that.”

Johnston was asked if the Commanders considered signing Manziel in order to have his rights for next season.

“We’ve got three healthy quarterbacks who have been great for us throughout this whole process,” Johnston said. “You talk to Matt Troxel (Commanders offensive coordinator), you talk to Mike Riley, both of them love the quarterback room. That’s what we’re trying to create here. That’s the big thing. Playing for 2020, how much to do we hurt our chances in 2019? That’s part of that balancing act that you have to do.”

Johnston was also asked if AAF officials tried to influence the Commanders in a way that would benefit attendance.

“There was never any pressure from the Alliance to do something we weren’t comfortable with doing,” Johnston said. “So I give them a lot of credit for that. They let each franchise make those decisions. In a situation like that probably the biggest one here so far through this entire journey they stayed true to the way they’ve set things up from day one. They did not force us at all to make a decision.”

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