Monday, July 27, 2009

CFL Recap Week Four: Settling the Quarterback Controversies

Take a seat and enjoy the ride, the league wide quarterback carousel in the CFL has begun to spin out of control.

Instead of making a push for a permanent starting job, many starting quarterbacks this year have seemed to be giving the coach every reason to go with another option. In fact, besides last years MOP player Anthony Calvillo, no quarterback has shown any level of consistency.

This was once again evident in week four, as many quarterbacks didn’t even last the whole game.

This inconsistent play has had led to many heated quarterback controversies in the league. In a game where the most popular player is usually the back-up pivot, fans have been given all the more reasons to beg for the back-up quarterback to get a chance.

The coaches have seemed to do little to solve these controversies, further escalading the problem.

But all of that is about to change.

I am about to do what most coaches of the CFL have failed to do… decide which quarterbacks should be getting the start. Examine the pros and cons of each quarterback in hopes of ending this league wide quarterback controversy once and for all!

Edmonton Eskimos: The Eskimos did pull off an amazing victory against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but have struggled for most of the season so far. The quarterback position has been a heated area of discussion during this time frame. The main debate has been between two quarterbacks, the star Ricky Ray and the veteran Jason Maas.

Ricky Ray: It is hard to imagine the man who has led the Eskimos to two Grey Cup victories involved in a quarterback controversy, but it is true. Rick Ray has been a consistent threat to go over 5,000 yards passing each season, and already has 1,011 yards this season. Unlike in the past however, Ray has experienced a lot of struggles this season. He has made some poor decisions and turned the ball over uncharacteristically. Ray can throw one of the best deep and short balls in the league, but he isn’t very mobile, which can lead to more sacks.

Jason Maas: Ironically the man who once lost his job to Ricky Ray may just have a chance to win it back. During all of the time he has sat on the bench, Jason Maas has developed into a smarter quarterback. He makes better reads now and throws a solid ball. Jason Maas has proven to be fairly injury prone in his career, and he hasn’t played a lot of games in a row for a couple of season. This would lead one to question how consistent he would be as a starter.

The Verdict: It is a no-brainer here, Ricky Ray keeps his starting job. Ricky Ray has been the face of the Eskimos franchise for years and he is the catalyst of their offense. The early struggles of the Eskimos can’t be shouldered on Rick Ray’s shoulders. Jason Maas is a veteran quarterback, but he hasn’t been a permanent starter for such a long time.

BC Lions: Buck Pierce or Jarious Jackson? That has been the dilemma facing the BC Lions so far this season. Such questions are bound to arise after a 1-3 start. Quarterback controversy has been a familiar thing in BC. A few years ago, Dave Dickenson and Casey Printers were involved in a huge quarterback duo, that ended when Printers were eventually released.

Buck Pierce: With quarterback Buck Pierce, you know what you can expect. Pierce will make some plays for your team, but he is a fairly conservative player. He doesn’t really possess the ability to stretch a defense deep. This season, Pierce has developed a tendency for turning the ball over.

Jarious Jackson: Jarious Jackson has never really had a chance to step in the starters role, sitting on the roster behind player Dave Dickenson, Casey Printers, and most recently Buck Pierce. Jackson has shown flashes of brilliance in his career, most recently against the Edmonton Eskimos. He came in to relive the injured Buck Pierce and threw four touchdown passes.

The Verdict: It’s time to change things up in BC. Buck Pierce isn’t the answer for the Lions, so Jarious Jackson should get a shot. Things can’t get much worse in BC, and the Lions have seemed to respond well to the strong arm of Jarious Jackson.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers: After the latest debacle in Winnipeg, Bomber fans are desperate for a quarterback who can get the job done. Should it be southpaw Stefan Lefors, second stringer Bryan Randall, experienced back-up Richie Williams, or new acquisition Michael Bishop.

Stefan Lefors: Lefors got his back chance this year when he was traded from the Edmonton Eskimos to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Lefors was immediately vaulted to the starters role with Kevin Glenn being released. Let’s just say things haven’t worked out as he expected. Lefors has the worst quarterback rating among starting quarterbacks and recently threw for an appalling 30 yards in the Bombers loss against the Argos.

Bryan Randall: Randall hasn’t had much luck backing up Stefan Lefors. In limited time Randall hasn’t had any success, throwing for two interceptions. Richie Williams: Richie Williams probably has the most success out of all Winnipeg’s quarterbacks. Williams has a career quarterback rating of 84.7 and has thrown for over 2,000 yards. Williams competed for the starting quarterback job in Hamilton over the last couple of years.

Michael Bishop: Bishop is back! The erratic, exciting pivot who most recently saw time with the Saskatchewan Roughriders will look to earn a starting job in the CFL. Bishop’s career has been marred by inconsistency. He was great at times for the Riders last year, but also struggled.

The Verdict: Tough one to call here. None of the Bombers quarterbacks are very enticing. My call would be Richie Williams. Lefors and Randall have looked awful and Williams has experience. If Williams struggles the Bombers can look to Bishop to provide a spark.

Hamilton Tiger Cats: Last but not least we have the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Hamilton is in the middle of a quarterback controversy, thanks to the play of former Bomber Kevin Glenn. Heading into the season, the plan was to develop quarterback of the future Quinton Porter, but Porter has fallen on tough times.

Quinton Porter: Porter looked promising last season for the Riders, and he was awarded the starting role this season. Quinton Porter has a decent quarterback rating this season, and led the Tiger Cats to a victory against the BC Lions in week two. However, Porter didn’t play well in any other game so far.

Kevin Glenn: Glenn has been an amazing story for the Tabbies so far. He engineered a comeback victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and has looked great every time he has come in to relief Quinton Porter.

The Verdict: Quinton Porter may be the quarterback of the future, but Kevin Glenn is the quarterback of the present. Glenn has experience on his side and he is playing strongly. Quinton Porter can use the time on the bench to further learn the offense.
Power Rankings: Week Four
Check back every week to see who sits where in the power rankings
1) Montreal Alouettes 4-0 (LW:1)Montreal didn’t dominate the Tiger Cats, but their victory solidified Montreal’s dominance in the East Division.
2) Calgary Stampeders 2-2 (LW:6)Calgary is finally playing like the defending champs. Their victory against the Lions was very convincing and showed the Calgary will contend in the West.
3) Hamilton Tiger Cats 2-2 (LW:3)A morel victory wasn’t what Hamilton was looking for, but they gave Montreal everything they could handle.
4) Edmonton Eskimos 2-2 (LW:8)The Eskimos pulled off an unbelievable win against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on the road. For now their woes of the past will be forgotten.
5) Saskatchewan Roughriders 2-2 (LW:2)The Riders looked so good in the first two weeks, but two straight losses have left the Riders scratching their heads. Things only get harder for the Riders who travel to Calgary for a road game.
6) Toronto Argonauts 2-2 (LW:7)It wasn’t pretty, but Toronto outlasted the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Bart Andrus looked good for benching Arland Bruce yet still getting the win.
7) BC Lions 1-3 (LW:4) The BC Lions blew out the Eskimos in week three, but were embarrassed at home by the Calgary Stampeders. The Lions are facing a lot of questions with few answers right now.
8) Winnipeg Blue Bombers 1-3 (LW:5)Winnipeg was only able to muster eight first downs in their embarrassing offensive performance against the Toronto Argonauts. The Bombers had no running game and all three quarterbacks who saw the field struggled.

Biggest Rise: Calgary, Edmonton +4
Biggest Drop: Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, BC -3

Check back twice a week for preview and recaps from the CFL. Also, check back every couple of weeks for a look at who is winning the race for the MOP award.

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