Grading the CFL's quarterbacks
Thursday, June 28, 2007 | 12:01 PM ET
We're going to start this blog entry with a bit of audience participation. Rank the CFL's quarterbacks.
Backups – Marcus Crandell, Michael Bishop, Buck Pierce – they count. You can even include Russ Jackson and Ron Lancaster if you want.
1) Dave Dickenson
2) Anthony Calvillo
3) Ricky Ray
4) Henry Burris
5) Buck Pierce (Lions fans will be braying about this being too low. Pierce has incredible upside, but let's be serious for a second. He's thrown 257 career passes. If anything, I'm being overly generous.)
6) Kevin Glenn
7) Jason Maas (I'm going to call 2006 an aberration. He's better than last year's Titanic-esque season.)
8) Kerry Joseph
9) Damon Allen
10) Michael Bishop (He could charge up the list, but let's not get overly excited about two good playoff performances.)
11) Marcus Crandell
Now, let's eliminate the teams with experienced backups, those in good shape in case of injury (B.C.) or ineffectiveness (Toronto).
That leaves us with:
Now, let's eliminate the guys who don't have experienced backups, but are being pushed by high-profile newcomers. These are guys coming off bad seasons, or bad finishes. (And remember, the most popular guy in football towns is usually the backup quarterbacks.)
On this list, that means Burris and Maas. It wasn't entirely his fault, but Burris took the bullets as Calgary lost at home in the playoffs. Stampeder fans have forgotten 1) that Akili Smith is one of the great busts in NFL draft history and 2) the long list of over-hyped Americans who've failed miserably at the Canadian game. Right now, they're waiting for Henry's first bad interception so they can begin screaming for Smith.
Meanwhile, Maas – coming off an injury-plagued and generally brutal season – is being challenged by the impressive Timmy Chang, who tossed for about 10 million yards in Hawaii's throw-the-ball-in-any-situation offence. The Tiger-Cats made him their number two quarterback, and all but drool when discussing his future. Maas is a fierce competitor and much better than he showed last year, but this is business. And, with absolutely no one expecting the Tiger-Cats to do much of anything, he might get yanked to give Chang experience.
So, now we have:
Next drop: teams without legitimate championship aspirations. Sorry, Edmonton.
The difference between Calvillo and Glenn is one Most Outstanding Player award, four All-Star selections and 40,000 yards passing. It's true that if he gets injured, the Alouettes aren't winning a Grey Cup behind Marcus Brady. But Calvillo has proven his durability.
Glenn hasn't. He missed three games in 2005 and two more in 2006. He battled hard, but lost in the playoffs to Toronto with an injured ankle. When healthy, he's shown flashes, but not complete consistency. His QB rating last season was seventh among those who threw more than 100 passes.
That's not good enough, and Winnipeg fans are wary.
You could really make the argument that the Blue Bombers are good enough to challenge Toronto and Montreal for East supremacy. Nate Davis and Davin Bush make a strong defence even better. Charles Roberts and Milt Stegall are as good as anyone else in the division.
The organization is at fault for not getting better backups. If Glenn falters – or gets hurt – this team is finished. But, you can't blame the Bombers and their fans to dreams of greatness should he deliver any kind of healthy, consistent season.
Coaches will tell you that everyone is important. Yes, that's true. But some guys are more important than others. This year, Kevin Glenn is the most important player in the league.
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About the Author
Elliotte Friedman is the host of the CFL ON CBC. Prior to being named host in 2006, Friedman worked on the CFL on CBC broadcasts for the three seasons as a sideline reporter. A Toronto native, Friedman is well known for his additional work on Hockey Night in Canada, as well as his presence on the Torino 2006 Winter Games telecasts as a hockey reporter. Prior to joining the CBC, Friedman worked at The Score network and was widely regarded as one of the best reporters in the country. Friedman used his reporting skills to break stories and file feature reports for high profile events including six Stanley Cup Finals, four Grey Cup Championships, two World Series and one Olympic Games. He is also a regular on the nationally syndicated Prime Time Sports radio telecast, hosted by Bob McCown.
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