Realty One

Access

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

ABOU-MECHREK: RIDERS USED THEIR QBS RIGHT


By: Mike Abou-Mechrek

A couple of weeks ago on the Sportscage, a regular caller asked the question we were all wondering about: We all know that Chris Jones is going to bring in Brandon Bridge to bail out Kevin Glenn, so why not just start Bridge?

I started my reply with: "Everything else being equal, Kevin Glenn is the better quarterback. He just IS."

At this point the caller accurately called me an idiot, hung up, and in the uncomfortable humor that followed, I never got to explain myself. So here it is:

Kevin is a better quarterback. His arm has never been as strong as Bridge’s but he can breakdown a defense, find an open receiver and get him the ball better than Bridge, and his release is much faster too!

I may have my bias, but given time, and SPACE, I’d take the 6th all-time passer in the CFL any day of the week. As an offensive lineman - who is facing his opponent and cannot see the QB - I loved blocking for Kevin. The QB being where he is supposed to be is imperative for a team, as well as our personal success, and Kevin is always where he’s supposed to be.

The jokes about Kevin’s speed are true … he’s slow! But he shuffles and feels his way around the pocket like very few others. This ducking and weaving isn’t only to buy time for the receivers to get open, but Kevin also needs to shuffle around to find throwing lanes. At 5’8, it is difficult for Kevin to throw over offensive and defensive linemen who are regularly a foot taller than he is with very impressive wing spans.

In effect, defenses don’t need to hit Kevin, they simply need to get into his field of vision, and that is what the Toronto Argonauts did very well on Sunday afternoon.

This is where Brandon Bridge comes in. Folks say he comes in because of his legs, but I believe it has more to do with his 6’5" frame and wingspan. Why? Because the playcalling doesn’t change when the quarterbacks do. If an Offensive Co-ordinator was trying to take advantage of a player's specific skill set we would see a distinct change in the offense - but we don’t see that.

The playcalls are somewhat the same. BB uses his height and cannon of an arm to get the ball downfield where he often enjoys one on one coverage because of the imminent blitzing defense.

This drastic difference in quarterbacking style gives Defensive Co-ordinators fits. They need to put together two game plans – one for KG, and one for when Double B gets in (because we all know he’s coming in). Putting together the two game plans is the easy part – coaches work 24/7. But implementing one game plan in 18 hours of weekly-allocated practice time is a difficult task in itself. Getting players to digest two strategies seems impossible to this scribe and that is why the Riders went with the 2 QB system in 2017; to keep defenses guessing and tilt the tables in their favour even before the game has kicked off.

I am sure they’d prefer it had worked out differently, but this is the system that worked for the Riders in 2017.  Before looking forward to 2018, I want to use last week’s East Semi Final to support my ‘why’.

I am usually the first one to toot the Offensive Line’s horn, but the great protection KG was afforded in that win was less attributed to the OL, and more to the lack of creativity of the Redblack coaching staff. I understand that Ottawa does not run a pressure defense, but KG was allowed to stand in the pocket and dissect the Ottawa secondary. There was no need for BB, and I doubt he would do as well, or even better than Kevin’s surgical precision. It was as if the RedBlacks had done no scouting on the Riders quarterback situation or even seen a Rider game this year.

The Argos on the other hand - as winners of the East had two weeks off to prepare for the Riders - a week for each quarterback, and it showed.

The Argos rush didn’t hit Kevin as much as it pushed the interior of the pocket and got their hands up and in his face. The blitzes they did come with were up the middle, further blurring or restricting his vision down field. If you notice, both of Kevin’s interceptions where thrown over an open receiver and into the bread basket of a DB sitting in zone coverage - a sure sign that Kevin didn’t have the space he needed to step into the throw, and over the mass of humanity that is both trying to protect him as well as accost him.

Enter Brandon Bridge and enter Argo Game Plan 2 … or more accurately 1B, because the Argo pressure package did not need to change much because it did not include bringing numbers. They were getting the push they needed to disrupt the Rider passing attack, and with Bridge in the game the Argo defensive line could rely more on their athleticism to create the rush and continue to allow the secondary to sit back and watch the Rider receivers routes unfold in front of them.

Although I’ll admit to the platoon working for the Riders in 2017, I’ve never been a fan of the 2 QB system because it does not allow for players to work through their mistakes. It can also build insecurities that can cause players to play outside ofthemselves or try to do too much didn’t see this between Kevin and Brandon because of the nature of their relationship … but I don’t see this relationship continuing in 2018.

Kevin was brought back to Saskatchewan to mentor his replacement. He and BB have also worked in a similar arrangement last season in Montreal, and I am sure how the Vince Young situation played out in camp strengthened their mentor-student relationship, but it is time to hand over the keys to Bridge and allow him to work through his mistakes without having to look over his shoulder for the hook, or for the answer to be given to him.

There was a distinct moment in Sunday's East Final that this torch was passed. With about 8 minutes left in the third quarter, Bridge took a sack on second down. During the commercial break I imagined Chris Jones going over to KG on the sideline and saying “sorry ‘bout the musical chairs, but we needed to see if the kid had it today. Now, how ‘bout you take it from here and get us to the show?” and I fully anticipated KG's return to the gridiron. When the game came out of commercial and #16 was in the huddle I knew that Brandon Bridge is the new starting Quarterback for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and Kevin Glenn’s time as the Green and White starter is over.

If a championship was part of his resume I would consider Kevin Glenn a first ballot Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, I believe Kevin will be the best player not to get into the Hall of Fame, but if there was ever a player for whom the Plaza of Honour should induct the day after he retires, it is #5.

That’s not to say KG is done in the CFL! His arm strength and speed is no better, or worse, at 39 than it was at 29. He’s had another great season in 2017, and he’s been a Plan B for the past decade with every team he has played for - except Winnipeg (where strangely enough could be in the market for an experienced back up to further their potentially impressive 2018 campaign). Or Edmonton (and not just because it’s the only team he has not been a part of). If the Eskimos lose James Franklin as anticipated, they could be in the market for a vet.

If there was a Mount Rushmore of Rider QB’s, Kevin is on it. But bringing him back next season will taint his legacy and discredit the great work he has done with Brandon Bridge over the past few seasons. Right or wrong, it's time to take the training wheels off and let Bridge run with the ball … or throw it. You know what I mean.

Had Brandon and the Riders come back to win there is no doubt in my mind that he would have started the Grey Cup. The opponent would still have had to prepare for both Kevin and Brandon, but when it's time, it's time, and it's time.

(Mike played 10 seasons in the CFL winning the Grey Cup in 2007 with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. An Economist, Certified Financial Planner and Charter Life Underwriter, Mike runs his practice through IG Wealth Management with offices in Moose Jaw and Regina. He values your feedback at Mike.Abou-Mechrek@igprivatewealth.com)

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

They come back with this duo again next year expect the same results.

Anonymous said...

Right on the money Mike! Time for the Riders and their management to invest in a franchise QB for 2018 and the years ahead. Sign the right man and go all in from Day 1 like Trestman did with Ricky Ray. No more of that Vince Young Tom foolery or aging game managers. We need the next young man with Mike Reilly or Bo Levi type talent/potential to be at the controls going forward, surrounded by a top-notch O-line and excellent receivers and coached into greatness.
.

Anonymous said...

Very well written article! Glenn did all he could and now it is time to go younger. It would also help with a better offensive co-coordinator.

Anonymous said...

The Mount Rushmore of Rider QBs would include Ronnie, Kent, Darian and Kerry Joseph, the 4 who brought us Grey Cups. Not KG.

CM said...

Agree with your conclusion. Time to move on from KG. Good guy, but it always ends in disappointment.

Anonymous said...

Jones went cheap at the qb position this year and it cost the Riders a grey cup appearance. He had two qbs, neither one of them with what was needed to be a true full time starter, so he HAD to plug and play with them.

You get what you pay for.

Anonymous said...

When all a defence has to do to is apply pressure to force you to pull your starting qb,you dont actually have a starting qb.

Anonymous said...

Insightful on the mark article, Thank you Mr. Mike Abou-Mechrek, Mr. Rod Pedersen for posting.

PS, the caller was the idiot.

Anonymous said...

We already are in the process of securing Bridge. He is 25 and has been firmly planted s our quarterback for 2018. Glenn is likely to be relegated to coaching or mentoring in some role to complete his tenure or as his contract is under renegotiation, so he may extend his stay as a sideline leader.

Anonymous said...

What exactly has Glenn done as a RIDER,to warrant POH induction? A few years as a backup early in his career,then two short stints at the end of his career, neither resulting in any notable success.

George Porge said...

I would say Jones' decision to "go cheap at the QB position" is actually what brought the Riders the closest to getting to the big game. Kevin Glenn is as good a quarterback as Darian Durant, but he's at least realistic about his value. Going cheap allowed the team to build in other, very much needed areas.

The article basically spends a couple hundred words on something that can be said in a single sentence: Kevin Glenn has experience, but is hindered by age, while Brandon Bridge has youth, but still needs time to develop into an elite quarterback. You can coach the latter, but father time always takes his prey.

What I saw this year was an incredible turnaround on a team that nobody really expected to even get this far this year. A lot of people have questioned (sometimes very loudly) Jones' logic behind his decisions these past few seasons, but nobody can question the results. Jones isn't building the flash-in-a-pan team we saw in 2013. He's building for longevity.

As a fan of one of your most hated rivals, I gotta say, I'm looking forward to rekindling our mutual hatred for each other on even ground. You guys are down to one or two positions that need work - the quarterback being the biggest one. I do expect that we'll be slugging it out again next year, and I look forward to it.

Peace out Rider fans! The future looks bright for you guys! No doubt we'll see each other in the post-season next year!

Anonymous said...

An intelligent article from someone with a pro's insight. The QB position will see more playing time for a younger QB in 2018, with Glenn's playing time reduced. A much better read than Vanstone's article with a cheap shot at Jones.

Anonymous said...

Antiquated dinosaur plaza of honor needs to be trashed asap, no need for it in and around New Mosaic Stadium, it's useless. New stadium, new ideas, moving forward with the future.

Anonymous said...

You mean back in the playoffs? I'll take it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the insight Mike. Greatly appreciated.
Dave from the Hat

Pat Strain said...

This will be an interesting off season for QBs . Bridge , Franklin , Collaros are all likely on the move . Also does Ricky Ray retire ? What happens to Glenn and Durant ?

CM said...

George Porge Glenn isn't hindered merely by age. Hes hindered by his inability to perform in the biggest moments. You can go to 3 down nation to read Drew Edwards views as a Ti-Cat supporter of Glenn's time in Hamilton. Again 17 cracks at it and hes never one 1. Durant was 3-0 in west finals and usually as the visitor. Either you can perform in the clutch or you can't.

Anonymous said...

Durant is done. One of the smartest moves Jones made. I certainly agree that Van stone's article was very biased against Jones. Vanstone has been very negative all year and if I was Jones, I wouldn't pee on him if he was on fire.

Anonymous said...

Even if there was money to spend there was no QB to sign. Get your facts straight and Don't say Durant as that boat sailed.

Anonymous said...

While I think Brandon Bridge has potential, I doubt elite will be a word to describe him or his career one day.

I don't think elite would ever describe Durant. In my mind to be elite means a whole career of being on top as a QB.

Anonymous said...

I get that you cant give too much money to the qb. But you also cant go cheap at that position. Glenn and Bridge represented about the cheapest option in the league. Riders were paying three qbs what most teams pay 1.

Cheap QB's may get you close, cause you can pay your defence more, but it wont get you a cup.

Whether jones likes it or not you still need a real qb in this league.

Anonymous said...

Most arm chair gms in this part of the country can best Kavis in stupidity. Consider the following prediction for 2018 qbs
Kavis trades his number one draft pick to Calgary for Boulay then releases Darian.
The rider arm chairs bully jones into picking up Darian at the expense of Bridge.
Bridge is picked up by Wally.
Kavis cuts Boulay who subsequently returns to Calgary.

Anonymous said...

They may have used their QBs right but they didn't have the right And.

Anonymous said...

Ha,Ha, Ha, Jones pick up Durant and release Bridge. You are a complete lunatic. That will never happen!. The only way Bridge leaves Riders is if he wants too. Sask. is the first place Bridge has been given a legitimate chance to play and he is unlikely to give that up. Franklin may decide to opt out of Edmonton for the Riders by being offered a legitimate chance at starting. He is likely getting tired of being second choice for the foreseeable future

Anonymous said...

Jones pushed that boat out to sea. Totally his decision to not negotiate in good faith. The idea that Durant would not sign a reasonably priced deal to stay here in the last few yeats of his career is laughable.

Jones goes cheap on offence and pours money into defence. Simple as that.

Anonymous said...

#1 rider armchairs bully here! Jones picking up Darian Durant not happening here at Sask. Less than mediocre Darian Durant a waste of time on anyone.

Jack Upshall said...

Well done Mike. Quarterback is the least understood and most difficult position to play in all is sport as you know. Suffice to say Coach Jones, and Coach Jackson with Kevin Glenn provided Mr, Bridge the ideal incubator to come into his own as a legit pro QB. Your portrayal illustrates how this was accomplished. Bridge can start. Bridge can win. This is a good situation for the 'Young' Riders.

Anonymous said...

Normally when a coach builds a team for longevity, he goes with a lot of young players. Jones has assembled the second oldest team in the league. Usually not sustainable.

Anonymous said...

The Mount Rushmore of Riders would include Ron, Kent, Kerry, Kory, the 4 who brought us Grey Cups. Not Darian.

Anonymous said...

Can Bridge start? Hes still looking very raw. How will he do when teams have film and experience defending him? You dont know until you commit. So now going into year 3 of the rebuild we still really have no qb and nothing resembling a committment to any direction at the position.

Anonymous said...

Glenn was good for 3 INT's, one being a pick six, not to mention momentum killers.

I guess that makes him the self-professed elite QB good enough for next year's starting job. I for one am done buying over priced Rider schwag.