- Free Agency
SEATTLE, Wa – Believe it or not, but in a week that saw four backup quarterbacks start in place of their injured starters, Ottawa REDBLACKS General Manager Marcel Desjardins didn’t have the time to see any of them.
Not in person, nor on TV.
Rather, Desjardins and his staff that includes Assistant GM Brock Sunderland and Scouts Miles Gorrell and Jeremy Snyder have been busy south of the border, searching for potential future REDBLACKS at NFL training camps.
However, despite the fact that Desjardins and his crew weren’t able to catch any of the games as they happened, it doesn’t mean this week won’t prove to be an important one for the club at some point down the road.
“The fact that non-primary quarterbacks are playing is certainly advantageous for us. It gives us a better chance to evaluate guys when they’re playing with better players on their team versus the pre-season,” said Desjardins through a phone interview from his hotel in Seattle.
“It gives you a different dynamic to how they can perform with that level of talent around them. Secondly, just the fact that these games do count, that’s another element too.”
Week 5 of the 2013 season saw backups Justin Goltz, Drew Willy, Bo Levi Mitchell and Zach Collaros all perform under the bright lights, with three of them walking away with victories.
Mitchell was arguably the most impressive, throwing for 376 yards and three touchdowns, en-route to being named Offensive Player of the Week.
However, the other three weren’t too far behind.
Willy led the Roughriders to a sixth-straight win, throwing for 269 yards and three TD strikes of his own. In Toronto, Collaros had a stingy BC defence guessing all night in a winning effort, completing 84 per cent of his passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns as well.
The only pivot to leave the week without a victory was Goltz, who was out-dueled by Mitchell, but showed glimpses of what he could potentially blossom into, throwing for 194 yards and a pair of majors.st
Making their first career starts, Goltz, Mitchell and Collaros combined for a sparking 125.0 QB rating. Willy already had one start under his belt, having lost to the Alouettes in 2012.
But just because Desjardins wasn’t watching, doesn’t mean he won’t be at some point in the near future.
“Obviously there are certain things you can grasp from being at a game, but the most information you’re going to gather is by watching film,” he said.
“For us to get on a plane and go out to the West Coast and do that multiple times to be able to catch pretty much every game, that’s not what we’re about. We’re going to do a lot of our evaluation by watching the film,” he added.
Not surprisingly, Desjardins wouldn’t disclose which quarterbacks have impressed him most, because “obviously that’s not a very smart thing to do,” he admitted.
But what Desjardins did offer up was the fact that he might not even have to waste a draft pick on the quarterback of his choice.
“In this whole process with the quarterbacks, what people fail to really look with any degree of emphasis is the fact that there are quarterbacks that are in the league right now that as of today are (set to become) free agents,” he said.
“Those are guys that we wouldn’t even consider drafting, probably because our hopes would be to be able to sign them as free agents. And whatever that mix ends up being in terms of veteran versus a younger guy and free agency versus the draft, is something we’re going to have to work on as me move along.”
The type of quarterback Desjardins wants under centre come opening weekend in 2014 is still a question he can’t answer.
Does he want to versatility of a Zach Collaros? The gun slinging presence of a Bo Levi Mitchell? Or the calm, cool, collected demeanor of a Drew Willy?
“There’s a number of criteria (he’ll be looking at). We want the best available based on a bunch of different criteria,” he said.
“Not only his ability on the field, but how much playing time he’s had and his overall performance not only on the field. When we’re at the games, we try to watch them outside of the field in terms of how they interact with their teammates and what their demeanor is like as well.”
“It’s not just the Xs and Os portion of it, but all the other little pieces playing into it as well.”
Regardless who Desjardins decides to draft or sign, you can be sure plenty of thought – and time in front of a screen – went into it.