Thursday, January 4, 2018

Zach Collaros is a Roughrider!

Wednesday the Riders made a big splash at the most important position by acquiring Zach Collaros from the Ti-Cats in exchange for a 2nd round pick (as I’m sure you’ve heard, it’s the pick we got from Montreal in the Durant deal). Regular readers will know that I have been raising this as a possibility ever since the reports that we had discussions about a mid-season trade. Regular readers will also not be surprised to hear that my reaction upon hearing the news that the trade was official was the Homer Simpson Whoop Whoop dance.

This is the biggest move the Riders have made at QB since acquiring Kerry Joseph in the dispersal draft. Over the ensuing 12 years our high profile moves at QB have included such rousing successes as:
·       “Marcus Crandell is the guy to lead us to a repeat”
·       “Steven Jyles, that’s our man”
·       Ryan “avoid direct eye contact or he will steal your soul” Dinwiddie
·       “Todd Reesing will save this franchise”
·       Kevin Glenn returns
·       “Tino Sunseri? What could go wrong?”
·        “That Jonathan Jennings guy will never amount to anything”
·       Kevin Glenn third time’s a charm
·       “Michael Vick? Do have plans for the next few months?”
·       Plus a list of additional attempts as Seth Doege, Brett Smith, Vince not-so-Young, that O-lineman disguised as a QB (Philip Sims), Bryant Moniz, Vad Lee, GJ Kinne, etc….
Thank god we stumbled upon Durant… almost inadvertently. Had Crandell not pulled a hammy and Jyles stunk up the joint in that BC game we may never have found what we had in him.

Anyway, to make an extremely roundabout point, after many years of repeated ineptitude at the most important position in football Collaros is a very, very big addition.

Before I get to what this trade means for the Riders in 2018 let me address a few misconceptions I’ve seen floated around out there.
1.     We are not going to pay him $520,000. We do not make this deal without a renegotiation of salary.
2.     There is no risk of him refusing to renegotiate and us releasing him. No one in the CFL is going to pay him $500K so even if he refused to negotiate with us he’ll be negotiating for less money with someone else… and it’s not like the prospect of playing for the Als can be very enticing. Also, we don’t make this deal unless we are sure we can agree on a new deal with him. While we would not go as far as direct tampering (because of course no one does that), let’s just say I’m certain that conversations have occurred that led us to believe there is a deal to be had with Collaros that will make both sides happy.
3.     It would not have been better to wait until he was cut. The 10th overall pick is a high price but Kent Austin said other teams were in discussions so it’s the price we had to pay to ensure we did not miss out.

Okay now to what this means for us.,,

First off don’t start staking out your spot on parade route just yet. This move improves our team but it’s not like we suddenly became the unquestioned super-power in the West. So temper the enthusiasm just a bit. That said I will not hold back that I am all in on the Collaros train. This is our guy and I am beyond pumped that we have him.

Why am I so high on him? Look at what he’s accomplished. Led his team to the Grey Cup in 2014 and damn near won. The following year was far and away the best player in the league prior to his injury. He threw 25 TDs in just 12 games and was on pace for 5000 yards and 38 TDs that year (38 would top 10 all time by the way). He returned from injury in 2016 and threw 18 TDs to 8 INTs over 13 games. Sure he went 3 and 10 but he had had no run support, a mediocre at best OL and the 3rd worst defense in the league so it wasn’t all on him. Much is made of his struggles last season and the fact that he failed to win even one game but again he had even less run support, was sacked/pressured more than any QB in the league and his defense was allowing an embarrassing 38 points per game. Did he struggle? You bet. But is there any reason to doubt that with a decent supporting cast he could return to his previous form? No!

Look this is a 29 year old QB… I repeat 29, who already has a Grey Cup appearance and MOP calibre season to his name. He also has a career ratio of 83 TDs to 38 INTs. Hell Kevin Glenn damn near threw that many picks in the East Final alone. What I like most about his game is that his strength is as a pocket passer. He’s not a running QB (though he can) and not at his best when improvising. He’s at his best, in the pocket reading defenses. What more do you want in a QB?

I look at it this way… behind our OL, with our offensive weapons, Old Man Glenn threw 25 TDs and we were the #3 offense. So if you assume that Collaros is only as good as Glenn then this should be a net neutral move at worst. But I would argue (and you would agree assuming you are not crazy) that Collaros has a much higher ceiling than Glenn. QB was one area where we were decidedly behind the rest of the West division and this is a huge step forward in that regard.

What does this mean for the other QBs on our roster (Glenn, Bridge, Adams, Williams… and apparently David Watford is still in the picture)?

Well for now we are in an enviable position of having a ton of great options. When you think back to the days of Brett Smith, Seth Doege and Tino Susneri (whose name still causes spontaneous shuddering when uttered), we are in a great spot. But the reality is that something has to give. That something is most certainly Glenn. We are clearly high on Bridge or we would have let him walk (but clearly we aren’t ready to just hand him the reigns without competition). So if Collaros is your guy (and he most assuredly is) and Bridge is good enough to be your #2 (and he is) then you have no need for Glenn. Many are speculating QB coach is an option but I don’t think he’s done playing. Besides he still needs to end up in Edmonton and stick around long enough for the Atlantic Schooners to acquire him. You should be able to get a 4th or 5th round pick for him and a proven vet back-up should be of interest to a few teams: Toronto, Edmonton (fingers crossed), maybe even Winnipeg or Calgary. I also wouldn’t completely rule out Vernon Adams being dealt. Ideally we keep him as the #3 but my guess is that he is making more $ than the other 2 so if you can get value for him and use Williams or Watford as your #3 you have to explore it.

To those lamenting that Bridge will not get his chance, I say boo hoo. If Bridge can beat out Collaros in camp then the job is still his (I just don’t see that happening). Besides Jones’ job is to give us the best chance to win. Having Collaros and Bridge gives us a way better chance to win than hinging the hopes of the 2018 season on Bridge becoming a stud or Glenn suddenly discovering how not to crap the bed in the playoffs.

I haven’t been this excited since… well I probably should not finish that sentence before confirming that you the reader are at least 18 years of age.


Dan said...

Great move Jones!

Anonymous said...

I think Collaros will work out great for the Riders. The big thing to me is the OL. I think we do need to get some more help there. Only 2 less than Mtl sacks allowed & 5 less than the bottom Lions. Sure, we were better at keeping pressure away but putting the QB on the turf is where injuries happen. Outside of Bladek we really don't have anyone close to ready & our 6 starters (counting Clark) all are 30 or over next year. I can't see Dyakowski as a starter as he faded in the home stretch. In concert with that, the running game has to improve. Richardson may pan out, Marshall is fairly good, but you need an everyday back who can block, run & catch. What other team than the Riders employs so many RB's - LaFrance & Morris had their chances at it & this "committee" finished last in the league by a good margin.We also signed Bell & did nothing with him. In my mind end the LaFrance experiment. He came to the Riders after a 3rd string stint with Ottawa & a yds/carry of around 4.0 & duplicated that feat here. Too much money & he's not the guy we need. Not much of a runner or blocker. I think Collaros can be very successful but the OL & RB positions are inferior to the top 3 ahead of us. There's still work to be done. But, no discounting Collaros. A MAJOR signing.

Rider Prophet said...

I'm not quite ready to right St John off yet. Plus we invested a year developing Zver and Meredith so there is some possibility. You raise a good point about RB blocking. I think Marshall has a big leg up there but it will be hard to keep Thigpen off the field. I don't see LaFrance anything more than Cdn depth at this point.