Tuesday Morning QB (CFL Week 13)

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It has been one of the biggest concerns for the CFL and the development of the game in the country as Canadians have always struggled at the most important position in the sport.

The CFL has always been a place where Canadians have been given a chance to succeed in the sport.

Rules in the league require teams to have 21 Canadians and 20 players from other countries known as internationals.

Among those Canadians or Nationals, teams are required to start at least seven of them while the other spots can be filled by international players.

These rules are meant to help provide a place for Canadian football players to play and not only to simply fill a spot but to have an impact.

It gives Canadians that little extra foot up on players from the USA that have been playing in a system meant to produce professionals from the time someone is 4-years old.

It also forces teams to take a serious look at Canadians and make an effort to find those good players that can make a difference.wk13

It has led to plenty of success as there have been legendary Canadians that have made their names in the CFL.

Players like Normie Kwong, Tony Gabriel, Mike O’Shea, Jon Cornish, Jerome Messam and Russ Jackson have all been massive for their teams.

They have all represented Canada as the best Canadians and some of the best players in the game but some may never have been given a shot if teams didn’t have to look for Canadian talent.

As great as all of them were the last name on that list is really the one that most people focus on and for a very important reason.

Jackson was the last great Canadian quarterback in the CFL as there has not been a quarterback with the talent that he had from Canada in the league since he left in 1969.

There has rarely even been a quarterback from Canada to actually start regularly in the league since Jackson led the Rough Riders.

It has been one of the only positions where Canadians really haven’t been able to find any success.

It is to the point where those ratios rules that are meant to give Canadians a chance don’t even include quarterbacks.

The position is entirely out of the ratio as the three quarterbacks on a team’s roster do not count towards the 21 Canadian players.

It has been a rough few decades for Canadian quarterbacks as none have been able to make an impact despite plenty of promise.

A number of university quarterbacks have seemed like they could be the ones to break through and be the first Canadian starter under centre since Giulio Caravatta started one game in 1996.

Despite promising names like Danny Branagan and Brad Sinopoli coming out of the CIS nobody could do enough to start.

Branagan became the first Canadian QB to take a snap in 12 years but never earned the starting job leading him to leave the league after a single season.

Sinopoli started his career at the bottom of the depth chart until switching to receiver and becoming one of the top Canadians in the game.

That has been the pattern as Canadian quarterbacks either leave the league before getting a real shot or switch positions in order to play significant time.

Things might be changing though as a new generation of Canadian QBs is just beginning to show up in the league and they could be making a big change throughout the country.

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They are all led by the self-proclaimed “Air Canada,” Brandon Bridge who found his way to the CFL through the NCAA where he started at South Alabama.

Bridge broke the drought for Canadians by starting for the first time as a part of Montreal Alouettes in 2015.

Along with Calgary’s Andrew Buckley, Bridge has helped lead a new generation of Canadian quarterbacks that actually look like legitimate starters.

Bridge is now getting his shot after an injury to Kevin Glenn gave him the start in Week 13.

With that opportunity, Bridge scored three touchdowns and threw for over 200 yards in a big win that marked the first time a Canadian QB started and won since 1985.

He might not have the permanent job as Glenn is still day-to-day but his performance shows promise.

Although Andrew Buckley is stuck behind the best QB in the league he has many thinking that he might be a target for trades to start for another team sometime soon.

Added to these two already making some noise in the league with the potential that is in U Sports right now with Michael O’Connor at UBC, Noah Picton in Regina, Hugo Richard at Laval, and Samuel Caron at Montreal the talent for the future is there.

Some are closer to making the move than others but the fact is that the future of the position in Canada seems to be in good hands.

Fans should only hope that it is the beginning of a trend as Canada’s league has not had a representative at the most important position since Jackson retired.

If Bridge can make the jump he might just lead the pack for these new quarterbacks and it won’t be something to report about but rather just the norm in the league.

 

Fourth Down

Back in the Saddle

Last year seemed like the end of the road for Andy Fantuz as the Canadian receiver suffered the latest in a long line of injuries. After multiple seasons ended early for Fantuz many believed that he was done and taking a job in the front office with Hamilton was confirmation of that belief. That was until this week when the Ti-Cats signed the receiver to their practice squad initiating his comeback. Fantuz will look to get back to playing speed quickly and hopes to make a difference as the Ti-Cats try to battle their way into the playoffs.

Interested Parties

It was only a few weeks ago that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats looked to a big name as a potential starting QB. They worked out Johnny Manziel but in the end, they determined that there was simply too many red flags to sign him right away. Now they are under pressure though as Manziel and his representatives activated the 10-day window that would force the Ti-Cats to sign him or trade his rights before becoming a true free agent. The CFL put a bit of a hold on that though as they extended the window requiring Manziel to meet with a domestic violence counsellor and with Commissioner Randy Ambrosie before he will be allowed to sign any contract.

Digging Deep

A week ago the Ottawa REDBLACKS looked like geniuses for trading for Drew Tate in the off-season when Trevor Harris went down. Tate has always been a good backup and he was sure to help them as with the absence of their starter as they continued to fight for the playoffs. Then the worst case scenario happened as Tate went down in Week 13 leaving the REDBLACKS with Ryan Lindley as their starter likely for Week 14 when they play Winnipeg.

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