One only

If Ray can’t go, Fa­jardo has to be Ar­gos’ quar­ter­back choice

Ottawa Sun - - SPORTS - FRANK ZICARELLI fzi­carelli@post­media.com — Frank Zicarelli

Un­til Ricky Ray shows he can prac­tise this week, un­til he’s ca­pa­ble of mak­ing ev­ery throw that’s re­quired, there’s no other choice for the Ar­gos but to turn to Cody Fa­jardo as their starter.

Hind­sight is a won­der­ful tool and arm­chair quar­ter­backs, no doubt, are ques­tion­ing Marc Trest­man’s de­ci­sion to start Jeff Mathews, who had never taken a snap this sea­son, against the host Als on Fri­day night.

Even if Fa­jardo had started, it’s highly doubt­ful the game’s out­come would have been dif­fer­ent, a com­bi­na­tion of Toronto’s sea­son-long in­abil­ity to ex­e­cute in the red zone, a sea­son-long theme of self­de­struc­tion by tak­ing pres­nap penal­ties while pro­duc­ing too few, if any, big plays.

Nat­u­rally, Trest­man or any coach for that mat­ter, re­serves judg­ment in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of a game, pre­fer­ring to of­fer a more in­sight­ful, sober ob­ser­va­tion once the game film has been re­viewed and bro­ken down.

Fa­jardo is far from a fin­ished prod­uct, a tough, mo­bile player with a big arm who was been cast as the team’s short yardage quar­ter­back when he joined them last sea­son.

Throw­ing ac­cu­racy is an is­sue, a topic Fa­jardo would will­ingly ac­knowl­edge dur­ing his time at the helm Fri­day night af­ter he re­placed Mathews at the start of the sec­ond half.

His skill is not to sit back in the pocket and sling it, at least not for the time be­ing, as he con­tin­ues along in his learn­ing curve.

What Fa­jardo does well is move the pocket, throw on the run and, when there’s no re­ceiver open, he takes off, gladly sac­ri­fic­ing his body when he ini­ti­ates con­tact.

Twice he led the Ar­gos on long drives and twice the of­fence failed to pro­duce touch­downs when penal­ties left points on the field.

On one late play, which didn’t garner much at­ten­tion given Toronto’s 21-9 loss, Fa­jardo was flushed to his left and, des­per­ate for any­thing, threw across his body a tight spi­ral that Khalil Paden, a half step be­hind two Als de­fend­ers, dropped in the end zone.

The pass was a thing of beauty, but com­pletely lost as the Ar­gos would lose their third straight game.

In terms of tough­ness, Fa­jardo is a com­bi­na­tion of Matt Du­ni­gan and Buck Pierce, fear­less to the point of reck­less, but that’s foot­ball and that’s the men­tal­ity cer­tain quar­ter­backs pos­sess.

Fa­jardo em­braces the chal­lenges that are part of a con­tact sport and of­fi­cials need to be much more in tune than they were Fri­day night as wit­nessed by a hel­met-to-hel­met hit de­liv­ered by Kyries He­bert that drew no flag, though it did draw the ire of the Ar­gos near the Als’ bench.

He­bert forced a fum­ble when he sacked Mathews deep in Ar­gos ter­ri­tory late in the open­ing half.

The Als, who have shown their own pen­chant for self­de­struc­tion, had to set­tle for a field goal on backto-back penal­ties.

Mon­treal went with the pass when the sit­u­a­tion called for the run as the Als took over pos­ses­sion at Toronto’s two-yard line.

No one knows if Ray will be back for the re­turn game Sat­ur­day night, which sud­denly looms as a must-win for the Ar­gos on dif­fer­ent lev­els with an away game against the Stamps up next.

Again, if Ray can’t make all the throws and if the pain in his right, or throw­ing shoul­der, per­sists, he won’t play.

Trest­man can’t make the same mis­take again and it’s why Fa­jardo should take ev­ery snap dur­ing prac­tice, why the Ar­gos should tweak their game plan and run plays that take ad­van­tage of Fa­jardo’s mo­bil­ity and abil­ity to throw on the run.

Play­ers don’t ques­tion de­ci­sions made by coaches, and Fa­jardo wouldn’t bite when asked point blank if he was dis­ap­pointed when he wasn’t asked to start.

At half­time, Trest­man an­nounced the change and Fa­jardo did what he could do given the cir­cum­stances of a team look­ing at an 18-3 deficit.

Al­most by de­fault, the Als have emerged as the best among an in­fe­rior class in the East with the po­ten­tial to cre­ate sep­a­ra­tion and earn the all-im­por­tant sea­son se­ries against the Ar­gos with a win Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon at BMO. Cody Fa­jardo, do­ing some soft-toss­ing in prac­tice, should be the start­ing quar­ter­back in the Arg­onauts’ next game, as long as Ricky Ray (inset) is still nurs­ing his sore right shoul­der. sec­ond half, threw for 142 yards.

The run game, which has been nonex­is­tent all sea­son, pro­duced a sea­son-high 173 yards, in­clud­ing 60 from Fa­jardo.

The Ar­gos haven’t pro­duced that many rush­ing yards since last Sept. 17.

Bran­don Whi­taker, one of three ex-Als whom head coach Marc Trest­man named as cap­tains for the game in Mon­treal, ran hard, com­ing close to hav­ing a 100-yard rush­ing game, to­talling 96 on 13 car­ries.

But as well as the Ar­gos ran the ball, they are not go­ing to win if they aren’t more pol­ished in the red zone.

And when you don’t score a sin­gle touch­down, it’s kind of hard to pre­vail, es­pe­cially on the road.

As a team, the Ar­gos took 10 penal­ties for 119 yards.

JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.