For ET, is the QB situation solved

Since Tillman has agreed to answer some questions, I thought I'd ask about the QB situation in Riderland. Last season you guys had a revolving door at that position with the release of Crandell, the signing of Bishop, and the various injuries.

I always assumed Durant would be the starter since he seemed to be the best. But he was injured and Bishop came in. With Bishop gone now, and Durant re-signing with you guys, will he be the next QB to lead the Riders?

I understand this question would probably be better directed at Miller, but I figured since it's your job to find the talent, you might be able to offer some insight. Will Durant be given a real opportunity to lead?

Darian will go to training camp in the lead position, but it will be an open competition. We have a lot of confidence in Darian, and, more importantly, our guys do, too. He also has their respect. It's easy to play the "what if" game, but of many circumstances would have been VERY DIFFERENT had Darian not suffered that unfortunate rib injury. But, he did, and the rest of what unfolded is ultimately on our shoulders!

Steven Jyles is back and we were very pleased with his progress. Steven has a very good arm, equally good mobility, and is a really good young man. He certainly will be in the mix, and, after gaining so much knowledge of our system, it will be interesting to see how much of a "jump" he can make in camp. Steven, as I said, steadily improved during the course of 2008.

Dalton Bell, who we signed late, has tremendous potential (smart, big time arm, work etchic...stayed at the stadium three and four hours extra every day looking at film), but he hasn't played a down of CFL football, yet. That last month, though, on our practice roster will be a huge advantage as we enter training camp this year. Several of our vets (we meet with all of them individually before they go home) asked if Dalton was coming back. I took that, of course, as quite the compliment to him.

The fourth spot may be Drew Tate, or a rookie, and we have not made that final determination. Drew had a shoulder infection, from a cut, and missed both pre-season games last year. That really hurt him, because we wanted to see him play with live action. At Iowa, he was known for practicing okay, and playing great when "the lights come on." Some guys just have that special magic. And, some guys who practice well, lay an egg under pressure. Back in 2007, in the pre-season game out in BC, Drew certainly grabbed Kent's attention. His stats weren't terrific, but he avoided the rush, made good decisions, looked very confident. Anyway, we will make a final decision on that spot in time. And, if it's not Drew, I hope he finds a CFL home. He's really worked hard, and never complained even after some very bad luck.

Thanks for the response, and first let me just say I think it's great that you've decided to be more active on the forum. You and Cohon have made a tremendous effort to get in touch with the fans.

I'm a big fan of the quarterback position. I once had someone tell me that I'm over-protective of my quarterbacks. :lol: I suppose that's true. I'd really love to see what Darian can do. I know the Rider community was pretty confident in his abilities. It's a shame what happened last season.

Barring any unforeseen injuries, I'm assuming you guys won't be going after any other quarterbacks, you'll be sticking with the four guys you have now? I look forward to watching the Riders next season. I hope Darian turns into one of the next up-and-comers.

That is a pretty big compliment, especially for someone who hasn't played a down of Canadian football. He must be feeling pretty damn good going into training camp.

My only question about the QB siuation last year is what was the point of aquiring Jyles? I know he did not look fantastic in the game in BC but in the game against Toronto (july 27?) he came in and did a good job and got us the W. I am just confused why he was brought here via trade and then eventually you aquire Bishop to start ahead of him. IMO that really hurt the chemistry of the team. Leaders like Mo expressed his concerns after the season but it was clear that Bishop was not on the same page as everyone else. How is Jyles supposed to learn or grow as a QB when guys are being brought in to start ahead of him? That would have been a tremeandous learning experience for Steven and it would have really gave him a good foundation to build off of, knowing that he is the guy until Darian returned.

You said he made such good progress so why not give him the nod when Darian was out? That would have given you and coach Miller a GREAT opportunity to really get a good look at him, both on the field and how he prepares during the week as the starting QB.

Well, regarding the first question, we traded for Steven because we wanted to acquire an athletic young quarterback. We saw a kid with a very good arm, good mobility, and, a former CFL coach and friend (Tommy Condell) had coached him in college, and raved about his character.

In terms of the playing time, or pecking order, that is a Kenny Miller decision. When we traded for Michael Bishop (we gave up a third round draft choice in 2010), it was because we needed a more athletic style at quarterback because Edmonton had "exposed us" the last game Marcus played. By exposed, let me elaborate. When we decided to go with Marcus as our starter, we felt going into 2008 that we had upgraded our offensive line, and that with a good receiving corps, and Wes Cates, that we could run a system where the quarterback made good pre-snap decisions, and distributed the ball to the all of our weapons. When our offensive line suffered a couple of losses, and we lost almost our entire receiving corps, Edmonton was smart enough to do the following: jam the heck out of young receivers, bring an extra man in the box and take Wes Cates out of the game, and, then, of course, take advantage of our offensive line situation and bring pressure, knowing Marcus couldn't escape the pocket.

Marcus did not fail us, but our offensive approach had to change after the Eskimos "exposed us." We felt with Darian (when healthy), Steven and Michael, we had three mobile quarterbacks, who could pull the ball and attack the perimeter (force edge players to play very differently), or qb's who could throw on the move...and that was better for us, given our unbelievable injury situation. None of this was Marcus' fault, but, without two starters gone on the o-line, and down three or four receivers (I can't recall the exact numbers at that time), we felt it was a move we had to make.

Kenny had coached Michael in Toronto and felt, for a third rounder in two years, it was a good move to make. That final call, of course, was mine, so any criticism (from those who don't like the trade) should be directed at me. In terms of how Michael was used, (relative to Steven or Darian) that was a coaching decision.

After the BC playoff game, it was obvious the Michael was not our future. Knowing Darian's desire to re-sign with us, I felt it was best to make the move quickly with Michael, in terms of his release, and go forward without further debate. If some think the timing was cold blooded, etc, then blame me for that, too. It was, in my view, the right thing to do, and I understand in each circumstance, criticism comes with the territory.

I have a lot to do today. Agree or not, that is what our thought process was...

Mike Bishop is to me one of the great enigmas. What an arm! I'll leave it at that...

I know your busy. Just wanted to ask: Any chance you could trade Johnathan St-Pierre to Montreal ? :slight_smile:

I'll handle this one: Sure, tell Popp we'll take that Richardson kid, as long as he agrees to eat about a third of his salary. I know, a Canadian for an American...but hey, we'll live on the edge this once.

We'll throw in a 4th rounder in 2011 if JR catches 100 balls in each of two seasons between now and then.

No need for thanks. I am, after all, an owner.

Come on ! not fair... what are you guys going to do with another star receiver. I knwo he's special but he can't play offensive line. Then again :slight_smile: I have to congratulate the Riders staff on the St-Pierre pick that late in the draft looks like he'll be a rock on your oline and timed perfectly with current roster depth...

Well, tell Jim where he can reach us if he's interested.

On a more serious note, it's really a neat thing to have our team's GM accessible in this fashion. Mr. Tillman deserves, and has, my appreciation for taking the time.

Agreed, totally.

How about Scott Flory and Woldu. Local boys for Local boys...LOL!!

Great explanation, and I understand what you mean when you say you had to release Bishop so quickly. No need to lead the guy on or create any unnecessary confusion.

I'll admit I felt a little bit proud that we were the team to expose you guys since you guys took that series so handily last season. At least I can take that with me from 2008 now. :lol:

There you go, Chief. It's a small bone, but it's yours nonetheless.

Mr. Tillman you have earned and respect from me that you haven't already. Coming on this free forum to explain some stuff to us shows that you actually care. Im really excited to see what Dalton can do, but i got a funny feeling by the 2009 CFL TC a certain Missouri product will be an FA, and that a certain prairie province may have his rights. crosses fingers

And i see what you were foreshadowing about when you said you were busy

[url=http://www.sportsnet.ca/football/cfl/2009/01/12/riders_signings/]http://www.sportsnet.ca/football/cfl/20 ... _signings/[/url]

Oh ps i was about to order a Mo jersey a few weeks ago, but that has since been put on hold by myself, please allow me to complete the transaction Mr.T :stuck_out_tongue:

One last thing i promise :stuck_out_tongue: . Can you comment at all on whether or not you will attempt to re-sign DJ or if by signing Clermont its time for a new direction?

You know, it's funny that you mention Jonathan, because so few ever do. It's like we traded Fred Perry for Steven Jyles...period! That 10th overall selection in the CFL draft (the second pick in the second round from the Eskimos), allowed us to take (and wait for) a young man who we feel can be a very good offensive lineman in our league. Really good centers do not grow on trees, and we've been blessed with a good one for years in Jeremy O'Day. But, with Jeremy's age (34), it's really important to be well positioned for the future. So, no, we don't plan to trade Jonathan! LOL...

Dang !

Thanks for the reply. Dropped something in your inbox.

Oh and…

Remember The Concordes !

Thanks for coming on this forum, ET. One of the great things about the CFL that separates it from most pro sports leagues, is the accessibility of its players , coaches and management to the fans. That said, I think it’s been a little to lovey-dovey so far…

Regarding the entire Bishop thing, about the only part that actually made sense was this :

After the BC playoff game, it was obvious the Michael was not our future. Knowing Darian's desire to re-sign with us, I felt it was best to make the move quickly with Michael, in terms of his release, and go forward without further debate. If some think the timing was cold blooded, etc, then blame me for that, too. It was, in my view, the right thing to do, and I understand in each circumstance, criticism comes with the territory.
I don't think it was cold blooded at all. What was cold blooded was the way Marcus Crandel had been thrown under the bus when the Bishop trade was made, and the message that sent to the young QBs that "we don't believe you are good enough". That was cold. But realizing Michael Bishop was not the future just seems to be a realistic conclusion. Half a season too late. I believe what was "exposed" by Edmonton, was that Crandell was not ever going to take us to the promised land. At the beginning of the year, we were told the system was so good that players, and QBs could just plug and play. And that if anything, Marcus was going to prosper in that system. To halfway through the year be told the entire system needed to be overhauled because your starting QB couldn't play within that system seems counter intuitive. Fact is, on a good day, Marcus was just a mediocre QB. On a bad day---and he played very poorly in that Edmonton game-- he isn't the answer. Never was. I personally didn't like the Jyles trade. Didn't make much sense. Then I liked the KJ trade even less. Still don't think much of that one. But the Jyles trade made more sense as the first part of a two parter. The beginning of a plan for the future. And then by proclaiming Marcus as the starter, it appeared there was a plan. Begin the year with the vet, and phase in the young players as warranted. And that seemed to be the plan. But when Marcus was tossed under the bus, and Bishop was brought in, any semblance of a plan evaporated. This was ad hock. This was short term. This was stop gap. The reasonable thing to have done, sitting there in first place, would have been to turn to Jyles at that point and see if he can play. Sit Marcus down and have a solid back-up while you discover if the trade for Jyles was a good one. Then when Darian is healthy, he can step in to start. But bringing in an outsider--and such a gloriously mediocre outsider at that--just sent the wrong message. And we saw some of that spill over into media comments from Darian at the time, and Mo Lloyd and others after the season. It is a testament to Ken Miller that he was able to keep the wheels from falling off the bus completely at that point. Even though the way he used his QBs all season was at best puzzling. But an opportunity to play the young guns, find out what the future looked like last year was missed. If that was your thought process, it isn't so much agree, or disagree, as it is, I hope it was a case of lessons learned. Because no matter how much lipstick you put on that pig we call "the Riders QB sitution for 2008" it is still a pig.

So after 3 trades for QBs, and the release of “the guy” what we are left with is the remnants of what I thought WAS the plan last year. Go with the future now. I am a big Darian Durant fan. All he has done since he arrived is get better each year. Austin says he is a very bright QB. KK before he left town, in a private conversation stated that DD was/would be the BEST QB we had. He reminds me of Kevin Glenn if Kevin Glenn could run…
So I am thrilled we have him back. And hopefully this year will be the year he establishes himself as a true starter.
Regarding Jyles, while I still don’t think much of the trade to get him–even if we have a prospect in the deal as well–I was relatively pleased with his progress last year. At the beginning of the year, he looked lost out there, and frankly was terrible. But as the season wore on, and he got more opportunity, he definitely improved. The last two times he received serious playing time, he looked pretty good. Good enough that it is a mystery as to why he was pulled in his only start? I think he may also prove to be a keeper. And if properly managed, we might have a 1a and 1b situation this year --at least until one clearly establishes himself–and someone always does. So I am reasonably pleased that the plan I thought we had last year is finally going to be implemented this year.
I don’t know anything about Dalton Bell. Except what we are told. And that is all good so far–as it should be. It sounds like he has the physical skills and a good work ethic. All great. Of course until he plays, that just makes him one of dozens of kids who have those attributes. Time will tell if he is a wanna be, or a will be.
Speaking of wannabes… Drew Tate comes to mind. I am sure he is a good kid and all, but the fact that Bell has already passed him on the depth chart says much. Injuries, not injuries, I don’t know. What I do know is QBs that come out of college highly touted are a dime a dozen, but QBs that don’t see the playing field in two years for whatever the reason, that go on to have successful playing careers are rather rare. Most (all?) QBs in this league by year 3 are starting. Or at least have started, and have been successful in that regard. I can’t think of an example of a guy who never even got onto the roster in two years that has had success in year 3. I’ll let ET and Ken puzzle over that one, but I’d be surprised if he is back. And more surprised if he isn’t then released at training camp.
Which leaves the real question, aside from Teale Orban, which of the myriad of prospects on our neg list will be in camp? If you follow this forum, then you know that pretty much every guy on that list has been touted by somebody as a “can’t miss prospect”. So out of a half dozen or so “can’t miss” guys, surely, one of them “can’t miss”?

Lovey-dovey?... I dunno Arius, that a scary phrase on a football forum.... :stuck_out_tongue:

Arius, I have no clue who you are, but you are pretty darn articulate!!!

In terms of our quarterbacking situation, let's review the situation: When I arrived mid-season in 2006, we had Kerry Joseph and Marcus Crandall (33 and 32 back then), Rocky Butler and a young Darian Durant. On a 35-man negotiation list, however, we had only one future quarterback, DJ Shockley, albeit a very good prospect. DJ, however, had been drafted by the Falcons, and he's still with them as we approach 2009.

We could debate all night about the merits of trading Kerry, versus giving him the significant raise he sought, but let's save that for an evening when I have time. The same for the Marcus Crandall situation, which I disagree with you on in some regards. In fact, I suspect we have strong disagreements on both fronts, but, hey, that's part of football. But, as to your specific question (via your last paragraph), we now have nine quaterbacks on our negotiation list...which is a strength in numbers, in talent, and, most importantly, includes players who are very likely to play in the CFL at some point in their professional careers becuase of size, skill set, etc. They are as follows (listed alpha):

CJ Bacher...Nothwestern...just finished his senior season. Probable NFL free agent.

Chase Daniels...Missouri...just finished his senior season. Will be drafted late, or a free agent.

Brian Johnson...Utah...just finished his senior season. Will be drafted late, or a free agent.

Bryant Lee...Southern...just completed his junior season. Shorter than listed, but very talented.

Kellen Lewis...Indiana...just completed an injury plagued junior season (high ankle sprain), but is a terrific young player, as evidenced by his phenomenal junior year.

Todd Reesing...Kansas...just completed his junior season. Only 5-10 and one of the top players in US collegiate football.

DJ Shockley...Georgia/Atlanta Falcons...still playing in the NFL.

Paul Smith...Tulsa...currently on the Jaguars practice roster. Made it as an undrafted free agent, but height (6-1) works against him long term.

Russell Wilson...North Carolina State...as a freshman, was just named ACC offensive player of the year. Superb athlete and passer, but under six feet.

Neg lists are not normally distributed, but it is at each team's discretion. Out of respect, we certainly do not speak to other teams protected lists...that's for them to determine. And, I will not acknowledge the remaining 26 players we have protected (at a variety of positions), but, I'm willing to share one element here because so many questions have been asked about our quarterbacking situation...past, present and future. As such, I hope this allows you, the fans who pay our salaries, to see we do very much, in fact, have a strong plan for the future. Sometimes, though, it requires patience. And, of the many good things we inherited from the previous regime, future planning at quarterback was not one of them. That is not a slap at Roy, who did many, many good things, and improved the Riders greatly during his tenure, but, the truth is, we inherited two older "bridge guys to the future," Kerry (who played very well for us) and Marcus...and one guy we felt had the potential to possibly develop into a starter (Darian). Rocky Butler, who was a nice young person, you probably remember, we traded to Hamilton for DJ Flick and Wayne Smith.

By the way, Dalton Bell, who I alluded to in an earlier post as an intriguing prospect, is a young qb we signed via our neg list just a few months back. So, the neg list is important. At some point in the past, guys like Kent Austin, Matt Dunigan, Danny McManus, etc, were "names" on neg lists.

Suffice it to say, though, long term, we feel our future at quarterback is going to be very, very bright!!! And, whether it's Darian, Steven or Dalton this year (or a combination), we feel they, along with the nine listed above, position our club for a high degree of success in the next 8-12 years.