We know what awaits come training camp
As the days count down before the Riders first Pre-Season tilt May 27th vs. the Edmonton Eskimos, all eyes will be on the battle at quarterback between the young Brandon Bridge and veteran Zach Collaros. Both will be looking to prove themselves but for different reasons.
Bridge is coming off a season where he threw for the most attempts in his career, often in relief for the often pulled Kevin Glenn. During this time Bridge was able to go 92 completions on 138 attempts for 1236 yards and passing for 10 touchdowns with 4 interceptions tacked on. However, what really grabbed the attention of Ridernation in his time doing spot relief for Glenn was his legs and ability to get outside the pocket when protection broke down. Bridge was able to muster up 127 rushing yards for an average of 6.4 yards-per-carry and a touchdown to boot. With question marks looming on the Offensive Line once again, Bridge may have to rely on his running abilities again out of necessity and not necessarily choice.
Collaros on the other hand is looking to return to his 2015 MOP-like form before tearing his ACL, a level of play he has not been able to live up to since the injury. Before his unfortunate injury, Collaros lead the Ticats to an 8-3 start leading the way with 25 touchdowns, 3,376 yards and passer rating of 113.7 the highest of his career (minimum 8 starts). The CFL was exposed to a Collaros they had never seen before in 2017, one that was indecisive under pressure and could not lead his team to a win, after an 0-8 start, Collaros was benched in favour of Jeremiah Masoli. Collaros would finish the 2017 campaign with a career low passer rating of 81.1.
Based on the numbers alone, both Bridge and Collaros have much to prove to themselves, their coaching staff and the 13th man, and if it was based on that alone, this competition would be wide-open and perhaps subject to a coin flip. However, one cannot discuss this competition without mentioning Zach Collaros’ contract, prior to restructuring he was scheduled to make $540,000 with up to $200,000 in bonus’. 3DownNation’s Justin Dunk reported back in January that the restructured deal is worth $430,000 with $225,000 included as a bonus. While Head Coach Chris Jones maintains that this will be a pure competition, it is easy to wonder if that will be the case with so much of their $5.2 million in cap space tied up into Collaros.
Needless to say, expect this story to start to dominate the headlines from the start of training camp all the way until the end of the season. Similar to last season, when one slips up the pitchforks will come out and demand the other start. That may just be the price to pay for the Riders in having two starter-quality quarterbacks under 30. Time will tell if Bridge makes the turn from fringe starter to franchise quarterback or if Regina is the place for Zach Collaros to revive his career.