February 28, 2023

Ferguson: Is Evans’ perfect fit with the Lions?

Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca

Football is, arguably above all else, about fit.

Within that simple three letter word are a million variables; timing, coaches, previous connections, ex-teammates, on and off-field chemistry, personality aligning, philosophical agreement, and on and on.

No great player reaches excellence without the right fit and nowhere is this more true than at quarterback.

What is Tom Brady without New England at the right time? Is Anthony Calvillo the all-time leader in CFL passing yards if not for a Montreal match made in heaven? Would Warren Moon be a Canadian and pro football Hall of Fame member if not for the opportunity afforded by Edmonton? Not likely.

» Lions acquire QB Dane Evans in trade with Ticats
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» Lions add to O-line with Michael Couture


For Dane Evans, Hamilton was the fit. It was the place he was supposed to flourish and be a major part of the CFL’s “next generation” of marquee quarterbacks as Ricky Ray, Michael Reilly and Henry Burris all said goodbye.

A strong arm with high football IQ and great feel for the pocket has always made Dane an attractive quarterback to play the Canadian game. As a result, he climbed past the Vernon Adams Jr.’s, Johnny Manziel’s and Bryant Moniz’s of the Ticats depth chart upon arrival north of the border to earn the role of Jeremiah Masoli’s backup. A major Masoli knee injury later and Evans had Hamilton in the 2019 Grey Cup only to fall victim to an unstoppable group of Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

And then the pandemic hit.

Masoli and Evans had to wait a full year to compete for Hamilton’s starting job. Masoli earned the top role before Evans factored in largely helping Hamilton through the pandemic-shortened 2021 season to another Grey Cup appearance before finishing the championship game in sweatpants and a vintage Ticats jacket due to a neck injury.

Masoli left for Ottawa as a free agent in 2022 and Evans was selected to be the future of the organization and yet, here we are just one year later with Evans a member of the BC Lions.

How? How did the chosen one between two talented passers, who started two-straight Grey Cups, see his replacement (Bo Levi Mitchell) traded for leading to his own transaction out of town in just a year?

Some bad bounces to start the 2022 season, protection issues at times and an over reliance on Hamilton’s top two receivers Steven Dunbar Jr. and Tim White come to mind quickly. The deconstruction of how Hamilton’s offence failed to live up to the hype of last off-season has surely been a topic of thorough review in Tim Hortons Field offices this winter. However, the 2023 offence is now tailored to Bo Levi Mitchell with new tools and toys added around him for Hamilton’s hope to attend their second Grey Cup at home in three years.

Dane Evans is now a member of the BC Lions after getting traded last week (Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca)

Meanwhile, Evans spent the last month twisting in the wind, wondering if he might be moving his wife and young daughter to Montreal, or perhaps Toronto or Saskatchewan. All the while, Evans and his camp saw Vancouver as THE fit.

It’s not hard to imagine why. Aside from the sunsets, ocean air and recent departure of Canadian superstar quarterback Nathan Rourke for the NFL, BC’s offensive coordinator Jordan Maksymic has shown through over a decade of roles in Ottawa, Edmonton and BC the ability to craft an offence around pivot’s skillset and maximize their potential. And that’s especially intriguing with a rhythm thrower like Evans.

Vernon Adams Jr. recently signed an extension through 2024 in BC, which is a well-deserved security blanket for a man whose own combination of fits has varied wildly through multiple CFL teams. With VA as the lead man, the Lions have an entertaining downfield throwing game that will look to harness greater efficiency. With Evans as a highly motivated backup to begin training camp, there lies the chance to reveal a Rourke-esque level of accuracy and pre-snap decision making to BC’s attack again. If Maksymic can get the best of both, or either, the Lions have a very real chance to push the best in the West.

I have no doubt both will play this season, just like 2021 in Hamilton between Masoli and Evans. The larger question is who takes more snaps and when do they come? With a solid fit for both in BC, only time will tell. But with the acquisition of Evans, BC has a one-two punch at quarterback capable of anything and everything in 2023.

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