I dub thee Year of the Backup

Last week, Zach Collaros was traded back to where it all started, bringing his football story full circle. He won a Grey Cup in 2012 with the Toronto Argonauts as a backup to the GOAT, Ricky Ray, who just hung up his cleats. In a year that has seen starting QBs dropping like flies and backups taking the reigns and running with it, it is kind of cool to see a former backup return, and presumably (eventually) grab the starter’s job he once fought so hard for.

Collaros lost the starter job in Saskatchewan to his back-up while dealing with his third concussion in the last two seasons. Cody Fajardo has quickly come in, taken the Riders to another level and has the most passionate fan base in the league smitten with his play. Despite the slow start, he has the Riders on a three-game win streak, albeit against the struggling Lions, Argos, and a Masoli-less Ti-Cats squad, but wins are wins. Take advantage of the weak teams and prepare the best you can for the good ones.

The Stamps have had to force their backup into action as a pectoral injury took out reigning MOP Bo Levi Mitchell in week three. Nick Arbuckle came in and lead them to an amazing fourth-quarter comeback, a 4-1 record since taking over and has kept the defending champs in the west race. Mitchell was practicing with a skeleton offense on Tuesday, as he prepares to come off the six-game injured list.

The Als have seen their season turn around after starter Antonio Pipkin went down and back up Vernon Adams, Jr. came in and led them to three straight wins, slingshotting them into a playoff spot. The Als still took the Redblacks to overtime last week despite the loss as Pipkin came back to replace Adams after he suffered a concussion.

The Argos have more problems than just the QB situation, but James Franklin was handed the starter job at the beginning of the season only to go down in week three to a hamstring injury. Collaros is being brought in to hopefully bring some stability to the position, but one has to wonder how much he’ll stay upright with their weak o-line and how many more hits he can take.

Even the best team in the East got bit hard by the injury bug as the Ti-Ctas lost Jeremiah Masoli for the season to an ACL tear, thrusting Dane Evans into the driver’s seat of a team that was thought to be contenders at season’s start. The former University of Tulsa standout is finally getting his chance to lead a pro football club after spending the last two years trying to climb the depth chart.

It was a tough off-season for the Ottawa RedBlacks. The two-time defending East Division champs were gutted by free agency, losing Trevor Harris, Greg Ellingson, William Powell and more. Last year’s back-up Dominique Davis won the starter job over perennial back-up Jonathon Jennings and had Ottawa off to a 2-0 start. The RedBlacks came back down to earth though, losing their next four games and Davis to a lower-body injury in week five. Jennings steered the ship in the interim, despite not being able to notch a win. Davis returned for their last game against the Alouettes and helped get his team back in the win column.

Only three of the nine starting quarterbacks remained at one point, leaving Matt Nichols, Mike Reilly and Trevor Harris as the only starting QB’s so far not to go down with some form of injury, although if Reilly doesn’t get some help up front, he might not be far behind.

Fajardo and Evans are the only aforementioned players that seem to have their starter jobs locked up at least for the season, as Fajardo is a free agent after 2019 and Evans will likely be dropped back down on the depth chart once Masoli returns. As for the rest, at least for now, let’s see what these guys can do.




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