Sometimes coming up with a column idea is difficult to do. You don’t find any compelling storylines from the slate of games, there is no controversy to exploit and you decide it may not be the best idea to write a second article about Tim Tebow.
This week was easy, all because of one person, Mike Reilly. I almost feel like an idiot for waiting so long to write about Edmonton’s starting quarterback. After being traded from the BC Lions for a second round draft pick back in January no one knew what to expect from such a young quarterback with only a handful starts under his belt.
In his first year as a full-time starter Reilly is second in the league in passing yardage and touchdown passes. No quarterback is even close to his 530 yards rushing which ranks him 5th overall in the category.
We’ve seen him pass for over 500 yards against Toronto and run for over 100 yards against the Blue Bombers.
All of this gave me an excuse to break down Reilly’s 418-yard, one touchdown game in a thrilling 35-27 come-from-behind win against Winnipeg.
So without further ado let’s break down the highs and lows of Reilly’s performance Game Log style!
Let’s skip through the entire first quarter, shall we, as it was dominated by Max Hall and the Winnipeg offence. Instead let’s pick it up five minutes into the second with the Eskimos trailing 20-0.
THE PLAY: 09:49 Mike Reilly pass to Adarius Bowman for 20 yards to the Winnipeg 41. Tackled by Brandon Stewart.
COMMENT: Winnipeg blitzes six as Mike Reilly rolls out to his right to try to get away from the rush. Considering how poor a job the Eskimos offensive line has done protecting Reilly, it really is no surprise to see how aggressive Winnipeg’s defence is. This will be a constant theme.
What you notice on this play is Reilly’s ability to deliver a fairly accurate pass despite a hard charging Henoc Muamba, who got through the line untouched and has a direct shot at the quarterback. Love that Reilly kept his eyes downfield the entire time. You may have noticed I wrote “fairly” to describe the accuracy of this throw, it was a bit high but Bowman helps out his quarterback by going up to snag the pass.
THE PLAY: 08:45 Mike Reilly pass to Fred Stamps for 27 yards to the Winnipeg 3. Tackled by Jovon Johnson.
COMMENT: On this play, Edmonton’s offensive line does a brilliant job giving Reilly four seconds to throw the ball despite Winnipeg throwing a seven man blitz at them. This is another play that shows off Reilly’s accuracy as he hits Stamps in stride.
THE PLAY: 08:08 Mike Reilly incomplete pass intended for Fred Stamps defended by Demond Washington
COMMENT: This is the darker side to Reilly’s night as this pass never should have been thrown. Stamps was well covered and Reilly never could step into the throw as he had a defender in his face. Reilly gets lucky here as Washington should have picked this pass off. (Spoiler Alert: That last sentence could easily be cut and pasted for one of the key critical plays late in the game).
Kenny Mainor would collect the sack on the next play thwarting any chance for a touchdown as Reilly held on to the ball far too long.
THE PLAY: 00:23 Mike Reilly pass to Adarius Bowman for 12 yards for a TOUCHDOWN.
COMMENT: After two unsuccessful attempts to score in the red zone Edmonton finally gets it done on the strength of Reilly’s brains and Bowman’s route running. Let’s start with the brains part.
THE PLAY: 00:31 Mike Reilly incomplete pass intended for Shamawd Chambers.
COMMENT: I guess luck can run both ways. Edmonton would have won the game in regulation if not for Chambers dropping an easy touchdown in the end zone. I liked the fact that Reilly would come back to Chambers in overtime on the two point conversion.
Instead of freezing/shaming him after his costly drop and try to force a pass to Stamps Reilly had no problem going right back to him. Big leadership points for Reilly.
Overall Reilly was good not great and he absolutely got lucky with a couple critical dropped passes. Of course that may just be me nitpicking.
Full marks for Reilly when you consider he brought his team back from such a large deficit on the road and passed for over 400 yards all the while getting beat up by the Blue Bombers blitz.
Can we all just agree it was a heroic performance, a memorable moment in his development but certainly not a spectacular one?
I’m just excited about the idea of yet another young quarterback starting to emerge as a potential star down the road. That certainly has been the theme of the 2013 season.
I can’t wait until this week’s game against the Argonauts. As mentioned earlier Reilly went off for 511 yards while completing over 70 per cent of his passes. The most amazing statistic from that game was the zero turnovers committed.
Hey, it’s easy not to throw an interception when you’re playing the role of game manager and throwing the ball only 25 times. But Reilly had 46 attempts while the team ran the ball only nine times.
Toronto knew Mike was going to throw the ball and still they couldn’t generate even one turnover. Considering his lack of overall CFL experience that is one of the more impressive statistical achievements of the season.
By the way you’re darn right I would take Mike Reilly and Fred Stamps for my Week 13 fantasy picks for ‘Cauz vs. Canada’. Interestingly enough the other quarterback I considered taking was Zach Collaros, the most recent Gibson's Finest Offensive Player of the Week Award winner.
Who else is excited to see the two most recent winners of this award square off on Saturday? Maybe the most telling thing about how well both these young quarterbacks has played is that it has effectively wiped out any talk about the infamous Ricky Ray trade to Toronto.
Matthew Cauz is the Weekend Host for 'GAME DAY' on TSN 1050 Radio. Previously, he was a producer and football analyst for SUN TV where he appeared regularly on the “Casino Rama Grill Room” and he spent seven years working for TSN's “Off The Record”. Follow Matthew on Twitter @mcauz56.