When thinking of the CFL quarterbacks, it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a football team in pursuit of good fortune, must be in want of a quarterback.
The quarterback after all is the beating heart of the team. The face of the franchise. The better the trigger-man, the greater a team’s chances are perceived to be.
It is no coincidence that in our preseason list of superstars, quarterback was the position that dominated.
In the CFL right now however the starting quarterbacks are resembling the walking wounded.
The Missing Men
All around the league there are men down at this pivotal position. Only 2 of the 9 teams have seen the man they started the season with continuously perform under centre.
The West Division has seen plenty of its starters depart so far this season. In fact only Trevor Harris at Edmonton and Mike Reilly at BC are still upright. Given the week on week beating Reilly has been taking you have to wonder how much longer he can keep going too.
The East Division has been decimated at the quarterback position. Teams are having to adapt as they go.
In Toronto, James Franklin was supposed to be the future. Right now, he is an interested observer.
Hamilton continue to find ways to win. That despite losing their leader, Jeremiah Masoli with a torn ACL for the season.
Dominique Davis led Ottawa to an impressive victory in week 1 that offered hope in a rebuilding season. Since then a minor injury saw him benched before bouncing between starting and backing up.
Montreal started the season with Vernon Adams Jr. They had lost him to injury, but he returned last week. They will want to keep him upright as they look a different team when he is running the backfield.
Every cloud, as the saying goes, has a silver lining. Obviously the CFL wants star players. Quarterbacks are the ‘starriest’ of all. So you would expect seeing so many go down to be an unquestionably bad thing.
This is a sport with a ‘next man up’ culture though. One person’s misfortune can be another’s opportunity.
With starters out we have seen extended periods of play from some of the backups. And in some cases they have been able to impress.
Stepping in to replace the reigning MOP on the defending Grey Cup champions should be a daunting task.
If Nick Arbuckle is feeling the pressure it hasn’t shown. So far he is 174 of 237 for 2,103 yards with 11 TD’s and 5 interceptions this year. He has been efficient and kept Calgary ticking over nicely.
In Saskatchewan, Riders fans may well think they have found their quarterback of the future in Cody Fajardo. He is 147 of 198 passing for 1,871 yards and 7 touchdowns with 4 interceptions. Fajardo has also carried the ball 52 times for 275 yards and 6 touchdowns.
For Winnipeg, the Blue Bombers fans have only seen Chris Streveler throw the ball 16 times with 9 completions for 82 yards with 1 touchdown and 3 picks this year. Although he also has 5 rushing TD’s.
Yet Winnipeg fans feel some comfort in seeing Streveler running the O. Last year he was was the first straight from college quarterback to start a CFL game since Anthony Calvillo for the Las Vegas Posse in 1994, and helped keep their season afloat.
The Future is Now
When any team plans their season then plan A does not involve the loss of their starting QB. However, everybody knows it can happen and the backups have to be ready.
We have seen plenty of players getting opportunities this year. There will be more chances to shine too. Fans of every team will be hoping that if someone takes over they can be something of a revelation.
Nobody would wish injury on anyone. But when those moments come and someone steps up to take over from the men down, it is always fascinating to see how things will play out.
Featured Image: Chris Streveler is one of a group of young QB’s holding the reigns right now in the CFL. Image from bluebombers.com