Life After Trevor Harris: Ottawa Redblacks Quarterback Options

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A domino effect in CFL free agency has left the Ottawa Redblacks scrambling for a quarterback of the future and present day. The first domino was the signing of Mike Reilly by the BC Lions. This left Edmonton looking for a viable option at quarterback and thankfully for them, a signing bonus dispute with his old team led to Trevor Harris’ exodus from the East. The Redblacks are now left picking up the pieces of their offence. On top of Harris’ exit, running back William Powell (Riders), Greg Ellingson (Eskimos) and SirVincent Rogers (Eskimos) have all left the Nation’s capital leaving Ottawa without key pillars on their offence.

It appears as though the battle at quarterback will come down to two key players. Former Lions quarterback Jonathon Jennings and three-year veteran Dominique Davis. However, for argument sake, we’ll include Danny Collins as well, who saw limited action for the Redblacks in 2018.

Jonathon Jennings

Jennings was one of the more intriguing names in this free agent quarterback class. Not the marquee name that had teams falling over each other for his services (Reilly, Harris, Mitchell). However, he is also young enough (26) for a team to want to kick the tires on unlike his other free agent counterparts Kevin Glenn and Travis Lulay (retired). Jennings has had one of the more perplexing CFL careers of any young quarterback. After taking the CFL by storm in late-2015-2016, the wheels essentially came off in Week 8 in a game in Saskatchewan that saw him throw four interceptions. Since then, Jennings struggled to take the reigns back from Travis Lulay.

However, there is something to be said about a change of scenery. After relations grew hostile with Lions General Manager Ed Hervey, Jennings has found himself a new home in Ottawa. Offensive Coordinator Jaime Elizondo is the right man to work with Jennings who coached Henry Burris and Trevor Harris in his time in Ottawa. Since 2015, the Redblacks have been in the top half of the league in a majority of passing categories since that time.

Danny Collins

Playing devil’s advocate, let’s assume Collins receives a fair shake at the starting quarterback job. The 25-year-old is a product of the University of Maine who appeared in just two games in 2018. Completing 8 passes on 17 attempts for 90 yards and one interception.

A wild-card to steal the starting job no doubt, don’t just take my word for it. Former Redblacks quarterback Trevor Harris had this to say during the 2018 pre-season:

“…young and learning, but he has been good. He’s progressing really well. He’s had some downs, but he’s had a lot of ups this year. There are some great times ahead for Danny Collins. Not only is he progressing as a quarterback, but he’s a great guy. We’re a different type of quarterback. I’m more of a pocket possession quarterback; he wants to just shove the ball down the field. We think the game similarly. We’re learning from each other. That’s how quarterback rooms should be.”

Dominique Davis

At 29-years-old, Davis doesn’t have a very long CFL resume. He only has 93 passing attempts, 750 yards and three touchdowns to his name. However, that’s not to say the talent isn’t there. I was able to find this write-up on Twitter that outlined some of Davis’ strengths and weaknesses as a quarterback. Though dated in 2012, this could give Redblack fans some confidence as he’s had time in the league to correct these flaws. Especially in “slowing the game down” as noted in the summary of this analysis.

The Last Word

While the Redblacks are not new to quarterback controversies (Burris v Harris), this is unchartered territory for Ottawa. Since their inception, they’ve had a true number one pivot under center in each of their last five seasons. The result has been three Grey Cup appearances in those five seasons with a victory in 2016. There is no reason to write-off any one of these three quarterbacks competing for the starting job. All have something to prove to a franchise now hungry for stability at a key position.

May the best man win.

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