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How Crucial are CFL’s Teams Backup QBs? Very!

 Written by Joe Pritchard

Think your team is going to the Grey Cup? Hopefully they’re packing at least two quarterbacks.

I did some research on how many quarterbacks played an extended amount of time for each of the last 20 Grey Cup winners, and it turns out half of them played two quarterbacks at least enough to have two quarterbacks at or near 100 pass attempts.

The reasoning for how I drew the line around this number is the following. 600 pass attempts is a decent ballpark estimate of the amount of pass attempts a CFL team makes in a given season. Teams play 18 games, so if we’re using 600 as our number, that comes out to 33.3 passes per game. That comes out to 100 pass attempts every three games. I figure if a quarterback is throwing around that many passes in a season, they’ve seen significant playing time for one reason or another.

Here is the list of the last 20 Grey Cup champions, along with how many quarterbacks were around or over 100 pass attempts.

 

1996: Toronto Argonauts

1, Doug Flutie

 

1997: Toronto Argonauts

1, Doug Flutie

 

1998: Calgary Stampeders

2, Jeff Garcia and Dave Dickenson

 

1999: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

1, Danny McManus

 

2000: BC Lions

2, Damon Allen and Doug Nussmeier (94 attempts)

 

2001: Calgary Stampeders

2, Marcus Crandell and Ben Sankey

 

2002: Montreal Alouettes

1, Anthony Calvillo

 

2003: Edmonton Eskimos

1, Ricky Ray

 

2004: Toronto Argonauts

2, Damon Allen and Michael Bishop

 

2005: Edmonton Eskimos

1, Ricky Ray (Jason Maas threw the only other three passes the team threw, by far the smallest total for backup quarterbacks on this list of Grey Cup winners)

 

2006: BC Lions

2, Dave Dickenson and Buck Pierce (Jarious Jackson also threw 80)

 

2007: Saskatchewan Roughriders

2, Kerry Joseph and Marcus Crandell

 

2008: Calgary Stampeders

1, Henry Burris

 

2009: Montreal Alouettes

1, Anthony Calvillo

 

2010: Montreal Alouettes

2, Anthony Calvillo and Adrian McPherson (McPherson totaled 94 attempts for the season, with other players combining for over 60 more attempts.)

 

2011: BC Lions

1, Travis Lulay

 

2012: Toronto Argonauts

2, Ricky Ray and Jarious Jackson

 

2013: Saskatchewan Roughriders

1, Darian Durant

 

2014: Calgary Stampeders

2, Bo Levi Mitchell and Drew Tate

 

2015: Edmonton Eskimos

3, Mike Reilly, Matt Nichols and James Franklin

 

I would say the biggest thing I take from all this is that it’s great to have a top QB, but it’s a long season, and even the best teams should be ready to go to their bench at QB for an extended period of time, if the need arises. Half of the Grey Cup champions over the past 20 years have had to, and with the way quarterback injuries have been occurring over the past few years, it may become a necessity rather than a luxury.