John Hufnagel’s decision to bench quarterback Henry Burris this week shocked the reigning CFL Most Outstanding Player, but it’s the right move at the right time and almost every other coach wishes he had the luxury of such a tough choice.
Stamps backup Drew Tate has given every indication, despite limited action, that he’s the real deal and ready to step into the starting role. If Hufnagel’s hunch is right, Tate will be one of the top stories down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Fail, and Hufnagel’s got one of the best QBs of this era fuming on the sidelines and waiting for a chance to redeem himself. What could be better?
The ideal scenario for Calgary is if Tate lights it up when he gets his chance, making the 36-year-old Burris and his salary in the $350,000 range expendable in the off-season. Burris would attract a handsome return in a trade (could any team need a QB more than Toronto?) allowing the Stamps to pad their Canadian talent with some Double Blue draft picks.
The Argos, after wasting a year and a half with the Cleo Lemon experiment, are now saddled with career backup Steven Jyles, who has shown only brief glimpses of potential in his half-dozen games running the offence.
Most outstanding finish:
Has a quarterback ever won the Most Outstanding Player award after an 0-5 start to the season?
It could happen after B.C. Lions pivot Travis Lulay struggled early this year only to turn the season around with an eight-game winning streak and a guaranteed playoff berth. While Lulay floundered, head coach Wally Buono appeared destined for the firing line. Fast forward two months and the Lions are fighting for first in the West and Wally is an obvious candidate for coach of the year honours.
Saskatchewan riding Durant to the bitter end:
Question a coach’s decision about the starting quarterback and you usually get the patented answer, “He gives us the best chance to win.”
That holds true for Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Ken Miller, who is starting quarterback Darian Durant Friday night in Calgary. The game means nothing to the Riders, who can’t earn a playoff spot this season.
But why Durant? There are question marks about Durant’s abilities after a disappointing season, but the man’s got a broken bone in his foot. The Riders should be playing backups Ryan Dinwiddie and Cole Bergquist to choose a successor. Surely by now they know what Durant can do.