James Bridges (@JamesMBridges)
August 22, 2016
The Ottawa Redblacks starting QB controversy is settled.
Many in #RNation probably didn’t even think there was a controversy in the first place. All you had to do to choose your starting QB when both were relatively healthy is look at the wins/losses column and a casual look at each boxscore to know who had a bigger impact on the field.
In the five games that Trevor Harris started for the Redblacks in Henry Burris’ absence due to injury he went 3-1-1. Meanwhile, in the four games that Hank’s played this season, he went 2-2. The stats don’t lie, either. Harris has had by far a superior season, and to use a quote that has been used to death already, “he has put up video game-like numbers.”
To a number of Redblacks fans the choice is less simple. I count myself among this group. Henry Burris is the CFL’s reigning Most Outstanding Player, the team leader–arguably the heartbeat of the team–a major and inspiring presence in the community, the list goes on and on.
Most importantly, Henry Burris led the Ottawa Redblacks to the Grey Cup last season, and for all the reasons above & so many others I believe the starting QB job was rightly his to start the season. When he got hurt, I felt he should get his job back when he was healthy, unless Harris was putting up 6 TDs a game.
Whether Hank deserved to keep the job while Harris was at putting up the insane statistics above and leading the team to a couple of decisive victories became a moot point when Harris suffered what looked like a devastating knee injury four minutes into the 1st quarter of a narrow 30-29 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on July 22nd. Brock Jensen played the rest of the game, with both Burris and Harris injured on the sidelines.
Since Harris’ injury on July 22nd, Henry Burris has led the Redblacks to a narrow loss on July 31st at TD Place to the Toronto Argonauts, going 20/34 for 218 yards, throwing one touchdown, two interceptions and throwing at least four or five other passes that could have easily been picked off if not for some questionable hands on the part of the Argos.
Hank took responsibility for the loss like the standup leader that he is, and he wouldn’t blame his performance on a still-injured hand, though with his fingers taped up it’s hard to believe he was even close to 100% for the game.
He then led the team to a narrow 23-20 victory at home against the Edmonton Eskimos on August 6th, going 26/39 for 341 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, followed by a blowout 43-19 loss at TD Place last Friday against the Alouettes, where he went 21/31 for 322 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
The defense was terrible in the Alouettes game, and it would be completely unfair to put this one on Hank.
All together, in the three games Hank has played in Harris’ stead he’s 1-2, going 67/104 for 881 yards, a 67 per cent completion rating and 5 touchdowns against 4 interceptions (and a bunch more in the Argos game that, again, were badly thrown and should have resulted in INTs, but I won’t count them against him).
Not terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s hard not to salivate at the thought of Trevor Harris taking over the most dangerous passing attack in the CFL when Burris has not been able to make the most of his return to the starting lineup.
I think that Burris is still hurting from the finger injury that kept him out of the lineup for four weeks, but he would be the last guy to admit it.
If Hank had been playing in even remotely MOP-form while Harris was out with injury I’m almost certain he’d be the starting QB for this Thursday’s game at 7:30 against the BC Lions.But he didn’t, and so he isn’t. And that’s that.
I have no doubt that Burris will be ready to play if and when he’s called upon to do so, and to his credit he’s said all the right things to the media.
Per Tim Baines in the Ottawa CitiSun, Burris told the media, “It’s a disappointment that I won’t get back out there with the guys, but I know Trevor’s going to do one heckuva job and I’m going to make sure I’m his biggest cheerleader on the sideline. We have the best quarterback room in football. We support each other. We all want to see each other succeed”
In the scrum, Burris also revealed his injured finger was only about 85-90% healthy and added “This gives me time to get healthier. Of course I want to be out there with my team helping us put up W’s. It’s a call I don’t make. I just have to make sure if I’m needed down the road, I’m ready to go.”
I’m really glad he’s showing a positive attitude about this. You can believe that Hank is mad as hell about being demoted, but he also realizes that right now Trevor Harris gives the Ottawa Redblacks the best opportunity to win games.
For now, #RNation could do much worse than having the reigning CFL MOP ready to play ball.