Last night was interesting
For anyone who's allowed themselves to fantasise about the days when Adrian McPherson starts to "phase in" as the Alouettes full-time starter...last night was in the nature of an appetite teaser.
Sure it's never great to see your quarterback go down...but I'm sure everyone on the Alouettes is sanguine about the fact that one of the ways the "transition" might go down....is if Calvillo starts to.
And let's face it
It's more and more likely every year
Although we all can be mystified by longevity and quinoa pies...no one lasts forever.
While it's possible to prepare for a stint backing up the legendary Anthony Calvillo
One can hardly be expected to fill his shoes...not right away
But for a bit more than a quarter...Adrian McPherson attempted to do that
And got exactly what one can expect:
He had pretty much the same success AC was having...that is...not much.
I'm sure the "blunted quivers" Adrian was handed as weapons didn't help his cause much
But Adrian's attempt to sit in the pocket and let the play come to him wasn't working.
An anaemic combination of dunk-passes and last minute escape-attempts played right into the Riders game plan...and got the Alouettes exactly nowhere.
So on the second drive of the fourth quarter...AD decided he'd had enough.
I wish I'd recorded his post-game interview...but according to AD he went up to Milanovich and basically stated his intention to "react and play my game. We'll watch the game film later."
As the TSN guys were droned about how he had "way less reps in practise" etc, Mcpherson decide to take matters into his own hands...or rather...legs.
On second and medium McPherson simply dropped a few and then took off.
Damn the torpedos!
He got the 1st down with 3 yards to spare.
"He'll go to his 1st read...and if it's not there he'll take off. Which is often what young athletic quarterbacks will do"
But suddenly the Riders manic pass-rush sees them stopped in their tracks...looking confused and worried about contain. And Adrian has all the time he needs to make his reads and hit his receivers...down the field for a TD.
So much for their game plan.
So I don't want to boast about my age (that would be cock-eyed)
But I am long-toothed enough to remember some of the great running quarterbacks in the CFL.
And while people may moan about McPherson taking a couple glimpses downfield and then taking off...
I might like to point out that we got beat last night by a quarterback who has in his playbook a number of plays designed to do just that....or to give the appearance of doing so when Durant's feet were essentially the primary receiver.
Holloway, Clements, Flutie, Dunnigan, Moon, Ham, Allen, Barnes...the CFL list goes on and on. I don't think it's unfair to put AD in that list...seeing as how in his first "real" start (against Hamilton) he came close to breaking Barnes' single game Alouettes QB rushing record.
So while it may be difficult for some to imagine...there are games when a combination of strategy...intensity and intangibles like luck (and/or biased refereeing) will shut down the Calvillo style drop-back passing offence.
And I can see a time down the road when a complete McPherson offence can be implemented to break down opposing schemes in just such an event.
This is the beauty of an Adrian McPherson. He's learning to sit tight in the pocket...make his reads and make the right read. In the end...this learning process will serve us all well.
But the upside of Adrian McPherson is that when all else fails...you can still turn him loose...and just try to stop him.
I still remember the pundits talking about forcing Allen to sit in the pocket...and what they got was the world's leading gridiron passer. They also got the CFL's all time leading rusher...a quarterback!!!
Obviously it's too early to expect anything near that kind of production from McPherson
But it's also obvious that this early in his career...the Alouettes are going to have to take stock of the young QB and his talents. If they want AD to go out there and win a game for them they're going to have to trust the young man enough to throw the ball down-field...and to be a little less rigid about his "career path".
There's no question he needs seasoning and experience...time for the game to slow down and make his reads...decisively and authoritatively. But to under-use his innate talents simply because you want him to develop in other areas is a crime.
Think of it as a "mod" or an add-on pack. You have this great running QB with a cannon arm...you need to tack on some patience and vision in the pocket and you have perfection (ideally).
But until this fusion is complete...cut the young guy loose and watch him rip defences apart.
We saw a good example last night...unfortunately too little too late.
Hopefully the Alouettes won't make the same mistake twice.
Somewhere down that road...AD stepping in for AC might not be such a shock.
It'll be a distinct pleasure.