Hewitt Commentary: Roughriders seeing improved depth at quarterback
Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Zach Collaros attempts a pass against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during first half CFL pre-season action at Mosaic Stadium in Regina on Thursday, June 6, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor
Published Tuesday, June 11, 2019 9:51AM CST
Jeremy O’Day was hired by the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Jan. 18 as the Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager. O’Day inherited some very good football players from his predecessor Chris Jones, none of whom was a quarterback.
The QB cupboard was bare, as in barenaked.
The only quarterback signed for 2019 was David Watford, who was Saskatchewan’s third stringer in 2018. Watford was cut this past Saturday because he wasn’t good enough to stick around a season later.
If that sounds like progress, it is.
The Roughriders backup pivot last campaign was Canadian Brandon Bridge, who suffered the same fate as Watford last weekend except at the hands of the Toronto Argonauts. Bridge was beaten out by another Canadian quarterback, Michael O’Connor, who played at UBC a year ago.
The Riders went into their playoff game last season with a starting quarterback who was beaten out just over six months later by a guy who was then playing Canada West football.
Both of Saskatchewan’s backup quarterbacks from a year ago are now out of the CFL. Bridge and Watford are both exceptional athletes, they just aren’t effective CFL quarterbacks.
Chris Jones was blinded by athleticism which quite frankly is more important in other positions.
The Saskatchewan quarterbacking “dust” has now settled as the Roughriders prepare for game one of the 2019 CFL season Thursday in Hamilton against the nasty Tiger-Cats.
Cody Fajardo replaces Bridge as the Rider backup quarterback.
This is an upgrade.
Isaac Harker replaces Watford as the Riders third string quarterback.
This too is an upgrade.
Fajardo and Harker are stronger at reading defenses, so hopefully we won’t see as much of the “deer in the headlights” we saw a year ago. Rider offensive coordinator Stephen McAdoo may suddenly look like the good coach that he is.
Meanwhile the 2019 Zach Collaros replaces the 2018 Zach Collaros as the Roughrider starter.
This is an upgrade.
The 2019 Zach version is a bit quicker with a few pounds gone, and has a better running attack and receiving corps to support him. The 2019 Zach looks more comfortable, a feeling which trickles down from Rider Head Coach Craig Dickinson.
For the first time since Darian Durant’s arrival in 2006, the Riders could have a good young quarterback of the future carrying a clipboard.
This is both progress and an upgrade.
Hey folks, the Riders won’t be 18-0 this season and at times the quarterback will make a bad play, but the quarterbacking cupboard is no longer bare.
Don Hewitt first started covering the Saskatchewan Roughriders for CKCK-TV in 1979.