Esks QB's What Did We Learn From Two Preseason Games?

What did we learn from two preseason games?

  1. Mike Reilly's job continues to be safe for the next few years ... I know that's obvious and I am being some sarcastic, but that's not a good thing.

What it really means is if Reilly goes down the Esks have fooled themselves into thinking a 38-year-old happy footedKevin Glennwill be able to carry the QB torch. The Esks locked in Glenn as their QB2 without competition anointing him as the backup before ever throwing a ball for the Esks. If Glenn has time he can make plays like the 38-yard throw to Derel Walker against Saskatchewan in preseason. However, there is a reason Glenn has been released by every other team. If Glenn gets pressure he tends to panic and either force the ball into coverage or check down a lot. We also saw this versus Saskatchewan.

Glenn is not a good fit for the Eskies smash mouth spread offense, because his lack of an arm tightens the defense rather than opening it up. Reilly can make throws both down field and horizontally that Glenn simply cannot meaning Glenn has to rely on a dink and dunk approach much like the last older backup QB Kerry Joseph. Much like the Joseph experiment, the Glenn era is a risk averse backside cover that is neither a good short-term nor long-term backup solution. Hopefully theEskies never have to find out that Glenn is the wrong fit for their offense.

2.Eskie fans learned that Danny O’Brien with the first team receivers and offensive line is bloody awful, but the Eskimos gave O’Brien opportunity after opportunity and eventually he had success. Against Saskatchewan O’Brien was 2/7 with a pick, which is absolutely brutal! Coach Maas brought O’Brien in twice against Winnipeg as part of the second and third teams where he found some success going 9/14 while dinking and dunking. Heaven forbid if the Esks keep O’Brien as the QB3 again this year, because he is a great field goal holder. Put simply O’Brien is not a pro football QB and has no short-term or long-term upside. If the Esks keep him, it will be another wasted development year at QB3 for the Esks.

3.What Eskimos fans learned about Zach Klein is that he has his moments, but when given the reps against a first team defense he folds like a cheap tent. Yes, some will say the talent wasn’t around him so that’s why he failed and there is some validity to that and yet he was brought back with the second team and was still in effective. Simply put 3 of 11 with a pick is bad day and 5 for 14 through both pre-season games with a few impressive throws on the run just doesn’t warrant Klein being the QB3.

4.We really do not know what Eli Jenkins might be with only a handful of reps. Jenkins completed 1 of 2 the lone completion for 15 to Shaq Hill as part of the third team. Against Winnipeg he was 1 of 1 for negative yards to running back Blair Zerr. Jenkins did run twice for 18 yards, making him the best runner of the backups by average. However, there simply not enough of a rep sample for the Esks to know what they have when the lights are on in Jenkins.

What does this mean? The Esks have the MOP QB as their starter and after that it is a complete mess. With Franklin moving on the Esks must find the next one and soon to start the development process, because Glenn isn’t going to get it done. Eskie fans also have to pray … pray that Reilly remains healthy for all 18 and into the playoffs as he has the last two seasons. Without the Warrior the Eskies potential to make the Grey Cup drops to almost nil.

Hate to say it - but Kevin Glenn has passed for over 50k yards because everywhere he's gone the 'starter' has gone down and gone down early (in the season) with a long term injury.

However, if Reilly does go down, then Glenn would be a good person to come in. He's not spectacular (but he can be - especially in warm weather) so as long as IF Reilly does go down, it's early enough in the season that he can be fully healthy come early/mid October when the real season begins anyway.

As for the 'development' - like you said Reilly is good for another few years at least so good. Did you want another James Franklin? As in someone we bring in, looks really good, develop him for two/three years, then watch him go to another team? It's too bad Franklin wasn't a rookie now but that's the hand we got. I'm hoping that if not this year, next year we find the next one and we can actually keep him so that when Reilly retires we have a guy to step in.

Overall I'm not too worried about it this year. I'd say keep O'Brien as the #3 guy to hold, and keep the best of Jenkins/Klein (most likely Klein) and develop them on the PR. Don't forget, it's a brand new game for these guys and they have to learn it and they get very limited reps with the first team. I wouldn't write off any 'rookie' on this team yet - far to early for that

Watching the Argos Jim Popp and Marc Trestman making off-season moves and installing a development plan for not one, but two high quality young QB's in McLeod Bethel-Thompson and James Franklin makes wonder why the eks can't do the same? Meanwhile the Esks not only lack the talent at QB, but also lack the will to develop a young QB for a longer-term solution in the event that Mike Reilly cannot continue as the starter.

It is as if the Eskie brain trust believes that Mike Reilly is bullet proof and that if something were to happen the myopic view of 38-year-old Kevin Glenn as an option is realistic for more than a few games as a starter. Yet, wasn't this the consensus on Kerry Joseph who when with the Esks was also 38-years-old great insurance policy for then starter Steven Jyles? Joseph failed miserably as an Eskimo QB and after watching Glenn fail in Saskatchewan there is no reason to think he could fill the void if called upon. It is pure spin to state that Glenn is still a "solid backup" who could lead the Esks to the Grey Cup if needed. What is the value of Glenn to the Esks other than a publicity stunt?

What this all means is the QB3 for the Esks actually matters both for the short-term and the long-term. Yet, the Esks QB3 selection has been a disaster in camp with Danny O'Brien and Zach Klein failing in two seperate pre-season games and a lack of reps for Eli Jenkins.

The Esks should take a page out of the Argos management book and start to prepare for the day Mike Reilly is not the starter. If they don't the 2015 style run to the Grey Cup will not happen in 2018 or any other year in the next five years.

This was the same argument made for Kerry Joseph and yet he failed spectacularly. If you go back to 2015 Matt Nichols came in for Reilly and crapped the bed, not because he was a poor QB but rather a poor fit for the offense. QB's that roll out of the pocket to throw do not work in the Esks current offense, because the Esks rely heavily on play action and optioning. If one watches the Esks offense Reilly starts in shotgun, fakes the hand off, reads the timing of the hot route, looks to the check down route and then options to run. It is the offenses ability to run from the shotgun, call QB runs and stand in the pocket to deliver that keeps the defense guessing on their reads.

At 38-years-old Glenn like Joseph is past his prime and like Nichols is a bad fit for the smash mouth spread offense of the Esks. Simply put Glenn cannot make the timing throws to spread the defense while scrambling around. We have seen this already in Saskatchewan under OC McAdoo who is from the same coaching tree as OC Maas. This inability prevents the layered timing passing and run game that is the core of the offense from taking hold and allows defenses to simply attack all the time.

As we all have seen in Saskatchewan Glenn relies on dink and dunk RAC yards and lacks the arm to go down field against attacking defenses like Reilly can with his strong arm standing in the pocket to delivering with toughness. It is disingenuous to say Glenn wouldn't fail much like Joseph and Nichols if handed the ball, again not because of his past history but due to fit and limitations at his advanced age.

Franklin did as well as he did in limited action in 2015, because of fit. If one watches Franklin from his time with the Eskimos they would note that he largely stayed in the pocket. The difference between Franklin and Nichols was pocket presence. In essence, Franklin was closer to Reilly than Nichols was and as such I would rather develop QB that is closer in style to Reilly. To me that is not Danny O'Brien and said as much last year. Nor is it Zach Klein. Both are roll out and throw on the run QB's, which again messes with the timing of the offense and as we have seen in both preseason games the defense just go into blitzing on every down. Eli Jenkins seems closer to Reilly, but as you stated he has looked like a deer in the headlights, but it would have been nice to get him enough reps to make an accurate assessment of his upside. At JSU Jenkins played in a spread option offense, but add in another DB and a new playbook with timed layered passing at a pro-level and the development has to start now just to get him to a reasonable level by the end of the season. However, if he gets happy feet he is not what the Esks need.

In 2015 it was a shock when Reilly went down in the pocket and a secondary shock can happen at any time. Let's keep in mind that Reilly is a running QB. Yes, he runs less under Maas, but he still runs and he takes some horrific shots in the pocket. To have no sense of urgency to develop a QB is counter intuitive and delusional to the evidence in front of Eskie fans. Pat White, Matt Nichols and Reilly himself getting injured isn't enough to say a plan is needed? Mix in the example of back to back injuries of John White and most Eskie fans get that disaster can hit at any time and being unprepared can be a killer for teams.

The Esks have to do a better job of developing a QB in the short and long term.

Eli Jenkins was released today and that means one of Zach Klein or Danny O'Brien will be the QB3 for the Esks. Hopefully the Esks are shopping around to find another prospect, because neither of these two are long-term solutions to the QB development question of the Eskies.