Marcel Desjardins, general manager for the Ottawa RedBlacks was granted a gift this week as he was given the opportunity to evaluate some young quarterbacks that may very well become the face of the franchise next season.
Although Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell has stolen the majority of the headlines this week for his winning performance against the Bombers, if I was Desjardins, my quarterback selection in the expansion draft this winter would be either Argo pivot Zach Collaros or Roughrider Drew Willy.
Mitchell ("Mr. Friday Night") put up some impressive numbers, posting a quarterback rating of 144.4 however, after watching the game against Winnipeg, you have to give a lot of the credit to offensive coordinator Dave Dickenson and Jon Cornish for his statistical results.
Putting up 37 points and 376 yards passing against the Bombers was impressive, but to start suggesting that Mitchell is at a point in his development to be a starting quarterback in Calgary this season or start to compare him to some of the greatest quarterbacks to play in the CFL is premature.
The success of the short passing attack and the 5.5 yard average by Cornish allowed Calgary to completely control the game and dominate the time of possession in the game. Cornish finished the game with 175 yards of offence.
The Winnipeg secondary commits to man-to-man coverage and for some reason choose to play at seven yards deep from the Calgary receivers. That made the quarterback reads simple and turned the game into simple 'pitch and catch,' rather than a chess game of wits.
Dickenson didn't ask Mitchell to do the extraordinary, he simply expected him to do the ordinary, consistently.
Shades of Garcia
I didn't expect Collaros to perform the way that he did on Tuesday night against the Lions, who boast one of the toughest defences in the CFL. Although the Lions helped out the Argos by taking 13 penalties for 126 yards, I do not want to take anything away from the performance of Collaros.
Some have suggested that he has similar attributes to Jeff Garcia and prior to the game I shook my head in disbelief at this suggestion. However, after the game, I saw that he has the similar "X Factor" that Garcia had.
While he was not the most mechanically sound quarterback, Garcia had a way of finding results on the football field when given the opportunity.
Completing 21 of his 25 passes, Collaros executed an offensive game plan that was perfectly suited for his style of play. Typically when a young quarterback steps onto the field, the game speeds up as the anxiety mounts. Similar to Garcia, the game seemed to slow down for Collaros.
Collaros is the type of quarterback that a GM is going to have to go with his gut feeling to give him an opportunity because he simply gets the job done on game day.
Rally the troops
Stepping in for an injured Darian Durant, Willy performed beyond his years to lead the Riders to a come from behind 32-20 victory over the Ticats.
Unlike Mitchell, Willy challenged the Hamilton secondary downfield. Unlike Mitchell (who chose to lock his eyes in on his primary receiver,) Willy used his eyes to intentionally freeze defenders to open up space for the deeper target. Unlike Mitchell who spent the game releasing the ball quickly, Willy stood in the pocket and went through his entire read progression. Unlike Mitchell who often threw the ball up and expected his receiver to battle for the football, Willy placed the ball in positions where only his receiver had a chance to make the play.
The poise that he showed while in the shadow of his own goal post late in the game was amazing. With the lead, it would have been reasonable to be conservative with the play calling and simply hand the ball off to Sheets. However, Cortez chose to place his confidence into the hands of his quarterback to make a game-changing play, drop him straight back and deliver a perfect ball to Geroy Simon for a huge gain. This is the kind of play that made by a quarterback with ice in his veins and earns the respect of his teammates.
So is there a quarterback controversy brewing in either Calgary, Toronto or Saskatchewan this year? No. But the performance of all of these young guns will go a long way in getting the best out of Drew Tate, Ricky Ray and Darian Durant as they now know that a young quarterback is breathing down their necks.
Back to accessibility links